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  5. Introduction to green tables - Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances

Introduction to green tables - Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances

Table 1 - Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances suggests distances useful to protect people from vapors resulting from spills involving dangerous goods that are considered toxic by inhalation (TIH) (PIH in the US). This list includes certain chemical warfare agents and materials that produce toxic gases upon contact with water. Table 1 provides first responders with initial guidance until technically qualified emergency response personnel are available.

The Initial Isolation Zone defines an area Surrounding the incident in which persons may be exposed to dangerous (upwind) and life threatening (downwind) concentrations of material. The Protective Action Zone defines an area Downwind from the incident in which persons may become incapacitated and unable to take protective action and/or incur serious or irreversible health effects. Table 1 provides specific guidance for small and large spills occurring day or night.

Adjusting distances for a specific incident involves many interdependent variables and should be made only by personnel technically qualified to make such adjustments. For this reason, no precise guidance can be provided in this document to aid in adjusting the table distances; however, general guidance follows.

Factors That May Change the Protective Action Distances

The orange-bordered guide for a material clearly indicates under the section Evacuation - Fire, the evacuation distance required to protect against fragmentation hazard of a large container. If the material becomes involved in a Fire, the toxic hazard may be less than the fire or explosion hazard. In these cases, the Fire hazard distance should be used.

Initial isolation and protective action distances in this guidebook are derived from historical data on transportation incidents and the use of statistical models. For worst-case scenarios involving the instantaneous release of the entire contents of a package (e.g., as a result of terrorism, sabotage or catastrophic accident) the distances may increase substantially. For such events, doubling of the initial isolation and protective action distances is appropriate in absence of other information.

If more than one tank car containing TIH materials involved in the incident is leaking, Large Spill distances may need to be increased.

For a material with a protective action distance of 11.0+ km (7.0+ miles), the actual distance can be larger in certain atmospheric conditions. If the dangerous goods vapor plume is channeled in a valley or between many tall buildings, distances may be larger than shown in Table 1 due to less mixing of the plume with the atmosphere. Daytime spills in regions with known strong inversions or snow cover, or occurring near sunset, may require an increase of the protective action distance because airborne contaminants mix and disperse more slowly and may travel much farther downwind. In such cases, the nighttime protective action distance may be more appropriate. In addition, protective action distances may be larger for liquid spills when either the material or outdoor temperature exceeds 30°C (86°F).

Materials which react with water to produce large amounts of toxic gases are included in Table 1 - Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances. Note that some water-reactive materials (WRM) which are also TIH (PIH in the US) (e.g., Bromine trifluoride (UN1746), Thionyl chloride (UN1836), etc.) produce additional TIH materials when spilled in water. For these materials, two entries are provided in Table 1 - Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances (i.e., for spills on land and for spills in water). If it is not clear whether the spill is on land or in water, or in cases where the spill occurs both on land and in water, choose the larger Protective Action Distance.

Following Table 1, Table 2 - Water-Reactive Materials Which Produce Toxic Gases lists materials that produce large amounts of Toxic Inhalation Hazard gases (TIH) when spilled in water as well as the toxic gases that are produced when spilled in water.

When a water-reactive TIH-producing material is spilled into a river or stream, the source of the toxic gas may move with the current and stretch from the spill point downstream for a substantial distance.

Finally, Table 3 lists Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances for Toxic Inhalation Hazard materials that may be more commonly encountered.

The selected materials are:

The materials are presented in alphabetical order and provide Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances for large spills (more than 208 liters or 55 US gallons) involving different container types (therefore different volume capacities) for day time and night time situations and for different wind speeds.

Date Modified:
2016-08-25