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Derry council votes to update fees for Hazmat cleanup

DERRY — In the event of a hazardous chemical spill, town departments can send companies or individuals a bill for expenses related to cleanup and other costs. On Tuesday, the Town Council voted to update the way those fees are structured.

The fees were last revised in 2011 and must be on file with the state, said Derry Fire Chief George Klauber.

“For us to be able to request reimbursement, we have to have a designated rate,” Klauber said. “We need to have it in place.”

Such an incident could involve a tanker rollover on a local road that caused gasoline or some other fuel to spill onto the highway. Responding Hazmat crews would have to use materials to soak up and collect the fuel and could incur substantial costs for cleanup, Klauber said. The town could also incur salary and wage-related costs, he said.

“This is an opportunity for the town to seek reimbursement for those types of incidents,” Klauber said.

The recommended employee reimbursement rates for local police, fire and public works departments are based on current wages and “roll up costs” for Social Security, Medicare, Workers Compensation and New Hampshire Retirement System. The town can only bill for the actual hourly rate firefighters are paid, he added.

Derry could also bill for spills or other hazardous material incidents that involved assisting another town. The fire department could bill if there was a fuel spill on Interstate 93 in Londonderry and local fire crews provided mutual aid, for example, Klauber said.

A private company could be billed for actual expenses related to the incident, Klauber said. In some cases, an individual can be billed if there is negligence involved, such as alcohol or drug use, he said.The department hasn’t had to request reimbursement involving hazardous materials incidents since the rates were last revised in 2011, Klauber said.

According to state statute, the New Hampshire Department of Safety is required to establish maximum rates for equipment usage and personnel costs that may be charged by any municipality, organization or mutual aid district when services are provided during a hazardous materials incident.

There wasn’t any cost associated with updating the fee structure and the change will take effect on Oct. 1, Klauber said.

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