By Jacob Misener

Clean Harbors reports minor waste spill at Kimball facility last Wednesday


Daniel Thompson

Clean Harbors, located south of Kimball, is a waste management facility that deals with several types of waste material.

A tip alerted the Western Nebraska Observer to a spill at Clean Harbors’ Kimball location last Wednesday, when a container overturned in the north yard of the facility, spilling some 3,000 - 5,000 pounds of its contents.

“When we set it down, the rails on the truck were bent, and it got stuck,” said Jared Hunsaker, Plant Manager for the Kimball facility. “We got a forklift to try and lift it up onto those rails, and that’s when it tipped over.”

According to Hunsaker, there was never any danger to the plant’s workers or any members of the public, because the contents that spilled from the container came from a water treatment operation, which does not handle extremely hazardous materials.

“There are different levels of hazards in this industry,” said Hunsaker. “This type of waste doesn’t even need to be incinerated. Say you get oily water or water from an oil company cleaning a pipeline. It’s not hazardous enough to have to incinerate it.”

The dirt-like remains that spilled out of the container were quickly discarded, and a front-end loader scraped away any residue that was left in the lot, and a variety of tests were performed on the material, indicating well-below levels of hazardous material.

Hunsaker said that tests revealed that the chemicals, including benzyne and chlorine, released during the spill were below RQ levels mandated by the state and federal agencies. RQ stands for reportable quantity, meaning that this incident posed little to no threat to the plant or any workers.

The Clean Harbors Kimball facility handles mid-level hazardous material, and does not work with any radioactive waste or medical waste, as some facilities throughout the nation do. Primary waste that the facility processes includes oil and natural gas remnants, and other products that can be readily disposed of via incinerator. The most concerning materials handled by the facility is often herbicides, pesticides and pool chemicals, which have caused incidents in facilities across the country.

“Basically, we handle the stuff that’s in your garage or under your kitchen sink,” said Hunsaker. “But instead of two gallons of it, we have thousands of barrels worth.”


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