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Home > Programs > Director's Office > Emergency Response Office > Preventing Environmental Emergencies

Office of Emergency Response
Preventing Environmental Emergencies

Most ordinary citizens have a supply of diverse chemicals and materials around the house. Considered collectively, they represent a massive storehouse. Sooner or later - in Rhode Island, just about every day - hazardous releases are bound to occur.

Since individuals are less regulated than businesses, they might easily forget that they are similarly liable for environmental damages. For example, among the most frequent mishaps in Rhode Island are spills of home heating oil. It is a desirable fuel and an "organic" compound, but heating oil also contains caustic, flammable, and toxic components. Whether because of a deliverer's lapse of attention or defective equipment, whether beside or in the home, responsibility for a spill falls on the homeowner. Residue can leach from a yard or basement and spread through groundwater, fouling wells far away. Few homeowners know that insurance policies often exclude coverage for damage and cleanup. The bill for an overflow during delivery or a couple of weeks of a "small" leak can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. Likewise, a bit of improperly disposed waste - solvent, paint, old fuel or engine oil, a bit of junk material - can both wreak havoc on the environment and draw a fine or civil suit.

Bottom line: the environment, DEM, and ordinary citizens share a profound, direct interest in preventing such mishaps. Below are links to information that could help.
  1. Reduce the amount of hazardous material you use, store, and discard
  2. Recycle
  3. Properly dispose of waste
  4. Minimize the risk of spilling home heating oil
  5. Immediately report any hazardous release
    • During normal business hours, call the Office of Compliance and Inspection:
      MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY, 8-4 - (401) 222-1360
    • After hours, weekends, or holidays, call "The Environmental Police" (the Division of Law Enforcement) at the DEM Hot-line:
      ANYTIME, ANY EMERGENCY - (401) 222-3070
  6. Learn more about potential hazards

For General Information 222-6800 • After Hours Emergencies 222-3070 • Disclaimer
rev. 2/28/14