Accidents will happen, and when your business is storing thousands of gallons of hazardous materials, accidents can be serious. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency keeps tabs on reports called “Emergency Response Notification System” (ERNS) made to the National Resource Center. The EPA has Home Depot listed for 8 hazardous spills between 1992 and 1997. Several are minor in nature, but among the Home Depot spills are the following: 1) An employee at a Home Depot store in San Diego, CA in March of 1992 threw 287 lbs. of hyrochloric acid into a dumpster; 2) in January of 1994 in Los Angeles,CA, a pallet of pool acid fell over, releasing 495 lbs. of muriatic acid; 3) in Signal Hill, CA in November of 1994, there were 20 injuries at a Home Depot caused by inhalation exposure from smoke. 1,000 gallons of muriatic acid were released during a hazardous fire in the garden section of the store; 4) in West Quincy, MA in May of 1995, a multi-million toxic fire injured 16 firefighters due to contact with chemicals. Chlorine and pesticides were involved in the fire. Similar hazardous spills have taken place at Lowe’s. The EPA records the spill of hydraulic oil and lawnmower oil at Lowe’s, and includes an incident in 1991 in Silver Spring, PA when 7 people at a Lowe’s were injured due to carbon monoxide inhalation from an unknown source in the store. And, yes, Wal-Mart is also listed in the ERNS reports, for incidents such as: store employees draining car radiators into the storm drains; dumping power steering fluid and pesticides into a retaining pond. You won’t find any of these reports in Home Depot TV ads, but the risk of careless handling of toxic materials is real. Spills happen.
To review records on hazardous spills, go to www.rtk.net. The next time Home Depot knocks on your neighborhood’s door, ask local fire officials to get a complete inventory of the hazardous materials stored inside the store, and a print out of any incidents nationwide at the store that involved the release of toxic materials. Be sure your local fire chief has asked for copies of the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) reports on the Home Depot fires in Tempe, AZ, and Quincy, MA. Ask the company to provide a report of the garden center fire at Signal Hill, CA. Local homeowners have a right to know the risks involved in living near a warehouse full of chemicals, solvents, paints and pesticides. Welcome to Home Depot!