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Communication is key during emergency spills

Friday, May 3, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joanna Guza, digital communications manager
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It is important to have a well-designed response plan when emergency manure spills happen. Good communication with regulatory agencies like the Wisconsin DNR or county conservation departments helps spill cleanup go smoothly. Please consider these tips for better communication when updating your emergency response plan.

Use the DNR spills hotline:
If the spill is large, a safety hazard, not on your property, or near a waterbody, report it using the spills hotline — 1-800-943-0003. Failing to report spills can be a violation of Wisconsin law. All manure spills need to be properly cleaned up. The hotline staff will alert appropriate agency staff.

Identify a spill coordinator:
Pick a person or team of people to coordinate the spill cleanup. When agency staff arrive, provide them with your coordinator’s contact information and availability. A cell phone number and email address tend to work best. Keep in mind, most agency cell phones do not have text or picture messaging.

Ask agency staff questions:

Make sure to get agency staff’s contact information and their availability, too. Ask agency staff to keep you apprised of their findings and to let you know if they have any cleanup suggestions or if they have received media inquiries about the spill.
For lengthy cleanups, discuss daily updates and cleanup documentation. Include a list of these items in your emergency response plan for the spill coordinator. It is difficult to remember details during an emergency.

Share what you know:
Most agency staff cover large areas and will not know the day-to-day events of your farming neighborhood. Be sure to describe events that led up to or worsened the spill. For instance, did recent low temperatures burst a pipe? Was rain forecasted, and how much actually fell?  If manure runoff from a field or agricultural drain tile is the issue, should agency staff investigate other areas, too? Do not forget to explain to agency staff what has been done to clean up the spill, even if cleanup actions are ongoing or not completely successful.

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