Incident response

If a spill occurs

  1. If you can do so safely, STOP the source of the spill. Observe the safety precautions associated with the spilled material.
  2. CALL 911 in the event of a fire or public safety hazards.
  3. CONTAIN the spilled material. Dirt, sand, or any semi-impermeable material may be used to create a containment structure to prevent the material from flowing.
  4. REPORT the spill to the Minnesota Duty Officer (651-649-5451, 800-422-0798) any time, day or night.
  5. RECOVER or clean up the spilled material and dispose of the wastes properly. See the cleanup guidance below.

Reporting spills and leaks

Since 1969, Minnesota law requires that people notify the MPCA (through the Minnesota Duty Officer) immediately when more than five gallons of petroleum or any amount of any substance under their control is released into the environment that could cause pollution of waters of the state. Report spills of anything that might cause environmental damage, including petroleum, hazardous substances, vegetable oil, milk, coal, animal parts, batteries, and more. The person responsible for the spill must also recover spills as rapidly and thoroughly as possible and take immediately such other action to minimize or abate pollution of waters of the state.

Who is required to report?

Individuals, partnerships, governmental organizations, or companies with "any substance or material under its control" must report spills and leaks, including:

  • Property owners who discover contamination
  • Owners of substances being stored or transported
  • Contractors in physical control of a discharged substance

Even if a fire or police department or other emergency responder reports your spill, you are still required to report a release of hazardous materials that are under your control. Local ordinances or state and federal law may impose other reporting requirements. You are also responsible for a thorough and effective cleanup and disposal of all wastes generated.

Mercury spills

Spilled mercury, even small quantities in the home — such as the amount from a broken thermometer — should be cleaned up quickly and properly so that people don't come in contact with it or breathe its vapors. Some ordinary cleanup measures such as sweeping and vacuuming can actually increase the risks. Mercury vapor is very toxic. Even though liquid mercury evaporates slowly, a significant amount of mercury vapor can build up indoors after spillage. Learn more about cleaning up spilled mercury on the Mercury in your home page.

Cleanup guidance

Resources