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Anhydrous Ammonia is usually shipped in closed cylinders by road. If a tanker carrying the cylinders gets an accident and in the process overturns, then spillage is likely to occur. Anhydrous Ammonia is classified as a toxic and flammable gas. The gas has a foul smell and is irritating to the eyes and skin. It is packaged in closed cylinders under high pressure. The gas can cause severe skin, eye and respiratory burns. In addition, it poses an immediate explosion when its concentration exceeds 15% or comes into contact with flammable substances such as oil and hydrogen.

Emergency Aid

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Over exposure to Anhydrous Ammonia is likely to cause severe eye and skin irritation. If inhaled it may result to burns of the respiratory tract which includes the nose, throat and trachea. Treatment of the victims will defer with the kind of injury and the area affected.

Eye: Flush with large amounts of tepid water for a minimum of 30 minutes while keeping the eyelids wide open.

Skin: Remove the contaminated clothing and shoes. Flush with copious amount of water and do not apply any ointment on the injured parts. If irritation persists seek medical attention.

Inhalation: move the victims to uncontaminated area with fresh air. Administer artificial respiration if the patient is not breathing. If breathing problems persists, get medical attention.

Spill or Leak procedures

The first step is to stop the source of leak if possible. Then remove all sources of heat or ignition e.g. power tools and combustion engines. Isolate the area of spill for at least 300 feet in all directions and then evacuate the area downwind at least 1 mile in length. The area should be kept isolated until all the ammonia gas has dispersed. All responders must wear full protective clothing and self-contained breathing equipments. Ammonia gas is lighter than air but this does not rule out the possibility of the gas clinging to the ground for long distances. This is why the area must be evacuated for sometime till the irritating smell clears. Those people who attend to the emergency are supposed to be well trained and equipped to handle toxic gases.

Special Fire- Fighting Procedure

Anhydrous Ammonia has no flashpoint. Its flammable limits in air range between 16% -28%. This makes it less igniting. The extinguishing substances that should be used are water spray, CO2, dry chemical or alcohol-resistant foam. Care should be taken to prevent the pressure relief valve of the tanker from discharging or rupturing. Water spray should be used to dilute the exposed gas. Respondents must be equipped with positive pressure SCBA and protective clothing.

Chemical reactivity

Ammonia gas is stable at room temperature. Heating the gas cylinders causes vapor pressure to build up rapidly. This may lead to explosion if the release valve is ineffective. The gas reacts exothermically with water and acids. Ensure that no other substance comes into contact with the spillage except the distinguishing media. Avoid adding water directly to the spill as it increases volatilization of the gas making it easier to escape into the air.

Disposal method

Anhydrous Ammonia does not leave residue when spilled; there is no chemical clean-up that will be required. Post spill measures to be applied will include determining whether the spillage came into contact with running water. In such a case, the water should be prevented from flowing into lakes or oceans as it will cause death of aquatic life. Methods that can be utilized to combat the contaminated water are diking and absorption. Though a hazardous substance, well diluted ammonia may be used as fertilizer on agricultural land.

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