For the last 8 years I have been cleaning up the environment. I wanted to jump on Reddit and give you guys a chance to ask questions about what the life of Environmental Clean up is really about.

Guys/Girls feel free to ask me anything you want to know. My field never really gets much attention because most of what we do we are not allowed to talk about especially when its with big name oil operations, or the rail yards which in my opinion are some of the most environmentally impacted sites on the planet.

Have to be careful as I can get in trouble from past employers. So I took a picture of my old Wallet Card for my 40 Hour Hazwopper training for proof and hide my name.

I will be off and on all day so please feel free to ask me anything.

Alright guys its getting late and I am going to call it a night. Thanks for your kind words and your questions. It means a lot to me to hear what you guys thought about what I do today. To me it has just become a regular job especially since I have been raised around it.

Thanks for all the words of support, and for those whose questions I didn't get to I am sorry. Really surprised to see how big this got and I will try to jump in over the next few days and answer some more questions off and on.

Comments: 1064 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

leftylossies1130 karma

If I see you running, should I do the same?

EnviroCleanMan1278 karma

Yes, yes you should.

ChampagneFizz511 karma

Tech in the fire service here, I have T-shirt I designed and screen-printed that actually says,

"I am a HAZMAT TECH If you see me running, try and keep up."

With a little NFPA 704 between HAZMAT and TECH. My colleagues love it.

EnviroCleanMan278 karma

I have a few myself. With being a fire fighter please do me a big favor when you are using oil dry please don't go over board lol. I swear fire fighters around here clearly use the P for Plenty technique they forget some body has to shovel that up lol!

depricatedzero497 karma

Some "most of" questions

What is the most emotionally draining thing you've had to clean up?

The grossest?

Most awe-inspiring?

Scariest?

Any specific clean-ups you'd like to share?

Anything specific you'd like to talk about?

Also: did you get involved in the Deepwater Horizon spill? If so, how did that compare to other jobs? I understand that the depth of the well made it a real pain in the ass compared to standard cleanups.

EnviroCleanMan1056 karma

The Most emotionally draining thing I ever cleaned up was a my first suicide. I was in my early 20's and got sent to a Job were a guy had found out his wife was cheating on him so went to the bathroom put a shotgun in his mouth and used his foot to pull the trigger. We got in after the body was removed but there was brains and blood all over the bathroom. My supervisor at the time got sick and could not work so I did most of the cleaning my self. The bad part about the job was people keep calling the house and while I was picking the guys brains off the wall I keep hearing how Happy he sounded when the message for the answering machine that he recorded cut on. This was hard to deal with after the job and it opened my eyes to the fact I am mortal and I now think about death on the regular.

Awe Inspring would have to be a Clean up I did in Lake Charles Louisiana at a Oil refinery. Almost every environmetal Firm on the east coast was there and a a ton of oil got into the lake. The most mind blowing thing was with so many environmental crews there it was not on the news.

Scariest would be a gasoline tank cleaning I was doing on a BP storage site. I was in the tank hooked up to a air compressor that was pumping in oxygen for me to breath as we pushed all the waste to the vac truck hose. During the day I started to feel really good and started even to get the giggles but it was followed by a real bad headache. My co-worker in the tank that was with me told me my eyes look really red then I remember waking up outside the tank. Turns out another contractor had cut on their generator next to my air compressor and I was breathing in the exhaust from the generator. That really scared me and made me think.

I was not down for the Deepwater oil spill but I have co-workers that went down to clean up that are still down there off and on. They said it was a real mess.

whaaatanasshole154 karma

... and I now think about death on the regular.

How does this affect the way you feel and live, if you don't mind my asking?

EnviroCleanMan288 karma

For a long time it really bothered me contemplating my own mortality but after away I just realized there is nothing I can do about it.

I just live everyday now like I might die tomorrow, and I make sure that when I am at work I pay more attention and am not as reckless as I was when I was in my early 20's.

noodlenugget135 karma

I know you said you cleaned brain matter out of a bathroom, but maybe you can verify this for me...

I have a cousin who owns a trailer park. He once had a tenant who pulled a murder-suicide. Being the frugal man that my cousin is, he decided to clean the mess himself as opposed to bringing in professionals. I saw him shortly after and he says to me... "Man, you wouldn't BELIEVE how hard it is to get brains out of carpet..."

True?

Dr_Feels141 karma

[deleted]

EnviroCleanMan222 karma

You are correct. We do not try to get any biological matter out of carpets, or anything like that. Will clean the hard surfaces but for carpet, curtains and stuff like that it all just gets thrown away. You can never really get it clean.

whydidijoinreddit69 karma

wassup Lake Chuck shout out, that's my hometown. tell me more about this oil spill...

EnviroCleanMan146 karma

Okay so lets talk Lake Chalres and CITGO.

Heck when I was looking for an article about it to share I found a article saying that Citgo had to pay a few million for that screw up.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/economy/2008-09-17-533655679_x.htm?csp=34

I had been working all week and got sent down to Lake Charles because of that spill. I was there on the first night and stayed for a week or so till we got sent of the job because some newbie on one of our trucks was cleaning the truck and got his hand cut in a fan and had to go to ER. He was fine it was a plastic fan and broke plus he was wearing gloves just got bruised but we got sent home the next day.

Anyway we get down to Lake Charles and pull up and get sent right away to the staging area. During the night one of the tanks collapsed due to flooding and lost a few million gallons of oil directly into the water way. We were rushed to a random spot and hooked up to a oil skimmer with almost every other environmental clean up firm and started pulling oil from the lake.

This place was a mess and one of the worst environmental disasters I have witnessed. There was oil on the shore miles off the refinery for example while I can't remember exact numbers I am pretty sure my station was 22 miles from the main refinery at a second pool they found that had broken from the main area. It was in the creeks, shore lines, I mean from my perspective it looked like the Big oil spills I seen on the news when I was growing up.

After working all night I get back to the hotel which was a hour away because everything was booked up by every environmental firm it seemed like on the east coast and checked the internet to read up about the spill cause I mean this thing was massive. I get on and nothing I found a few minor stories but I did not see any major news coverage like I expected.

That was a mess and the one of the largest clean ups I have taken part of and the fact that it was not a big story at the time cracks me up. I bet you money you can still find pockets of oil from that mess in the waterways and that is what I mean by the media not giving enough attention to some of the messes that I have cleaned up.

That was water your city and surrounding cities spilled over 5 million of gallons on and only got hit with a 6 million dollar fine. They were able to do this because it was not covered. We were not allowed to take pictures and most of the oil was along the banks of the land they owned so media could not get there to cover it.

The good thing about my line of work is that I don't have to worry about job security as long as places like that exist cause once we find a better source of energy the clean up will take generations.

sonic403127 karma

I'm not sure about the legality issues, but don't companies have to abide by certain chemical exposure limits and provide you with proper PPE? Otherwise, cant they can get a serious lawsuit?

EnviroCleanMan74 karma

Yes the are required to by law. Does it happen in the real world for the most part yes, but there are occasions where you get sent into places without the right gear and its up to you to blow the whistle.

Most of the companies I worked for do not allow me to go into IDLH (immediate danger to life and health) environments. The details on what a IDLH environment is can be found here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IDLH

MagikHat293 karma

How bad does the news underestimate damages from big man made disasters? Oil spills/plant explosions and what not

EnviroCleanMan416 karma

All the time. Most of the time when I see something I cleaned up on the news they never get into the true extent of what really happen or how bad it was. This has alot to do with the fact that we are not allowed to talk to reporters.

They also don't really get into how long it takes to clean up alot of those messes. We are normally still there a long time after the initially reporting cleaning up.

threemorereasons236 karma

How do you manage to eat during long and disgusting cleanups? Do you easily go from cleaning up blood and guts to munching on lunch?

EnviroCleanMan307 karma

Gore really does not bother me much anymore because I have grown use to it. I have seen alot of messed up stuff so it just gets put in the back of your heard.

Remember most of the time we are working in chemical suits in the dead of summer so its extremely hot and draining. When you get a chance to eat you eat because most of the time your pulling 12+ Hours a shift.

I actually eat more on big clean up projects then I do on smaller projects. With small projects if I stop and eat that just makes it a hour longer to get out of there during the day. So I put down that I have a lunch and leave a hour early that way if OSHA comes to the job site it does not look like we have been skipping lunch.

vashtiii200 karma

Another question: as a badass cleaner, do you have any hints and tips to help us clean up our homes?

EnviroCleanMan454 karma

I stay away from heavy cleaners for the house hold because I hate chemicals. For cleaning around the house I use vinegar or citrus cleaners.

Also if you ever find mold don't freak out! Right now Mold is turning into the new asbestos and environmental companies are making a killing off it. If you have mold find the leak and stop it, spray the area with Bleach or this stuff called simple green. If the boards or dry wall is really wet just get ride of the wet stuff and replace it or call in a handy man to do it.

For mold we buy almost all our chemicals for clean up from lowes then charge a arm and a leg for such a simple fix.

KissTheBlade173 karma

How's the pay?

EnviroCleanMan274 karma

East Coast pay starts around 12-14 for entry level work after a few years its easier to move to 15-20 dollars a hour.

The great thing though is any time you go to a big job, or after hours emergency response its automatically time and a half.

KissTheBlade128 karma

Do you get hazard pay also?

MrRedSeedless94 karma

I'm interested to know too. Seems like a pretty dangerous job.

EnviroCleanMan225 karma

Yes we get Hazard pay its time and a half.

MrRedSeedless32 karma

Time and a half all the time? That's not bad.

tlocfym47 karma

[deleted]

EnviroCleanMan63 karma

Very True any time I'm driving I get paid. When I get a Call I start getting paid as soon as I call and my company charges a 4 hour minimum no matter the call. So if I get in and its simple I can bank a few hours of time and a half for free. We also got paid till we got to our house from a call. Per Diem is nightly based off what area we stay in, and most of the times if your working late they bring you food.

Hvse158 karma

What inspired you to get into a field like that?

EnviroCleanMan262 karma

My father started doing Environmental Clean up when he got out of the marines so I grew up around it. After I got out of the army I was kind of lost and didnt know what I wanted to do so my dad offered me a job at his firm. I was younger and liked danger so I figured it would be fun.

Kerfluffle-Bunny99 karma

How has the fun part worked out for you? From your other answers, you definitely have the danger covered.

EnviroCleanMan156 karma

I have been lucky and got to do a lot of traveling around the country. While it is very dangerous at times it can be fun work.

You never really do the same thing as every job is different and some jobs are pretty cool. One that comes to mind was cleaning up a airplane hanger for one of the top NASCAR teams. The fire alarm came on and flooded it with foam before they were suppose to leave. When we got there we got to clean it up and we got to meet all the drivers and what not. I am not a big Nascar fan but it was cool.

I also take the time when I travel to check out all the historical locations around when I am out of town. So I have got to check out and see some cool stuff I might not have been able to do if I didn't travel as much.

KennethZonestar121 karma

Okay. I understand that this type of profession can make you somewhat jaded in regards to gore, and other disgusting things. But what is the thing that has shaken you the most that you have seen? It doesn't have to be something that's disgusting, but what has shaken your soul?

EnviroCleanMan352 karma

Like I said in the post above my first suicide was the hardest for me to get over and opened my eyes to my own mortality nothing like cleaning up Human brain to make you realize exactly what your made of.

Another thing that I look back on that bugs me is a clean up I did on the interstate. Truck driver went in to grab a drink and forgot to cut on his air brakes. His truck went down the on ramp into incoming traffic and hit a car with a family going on vacation and killed the mother. I got their to clean up the saddle tanks that broke and leaked diesel onto the freeway. To this day I will never forget the look in those kids eye's starring at the truck driver who killed there mom over a pepsi while he was talking to the police. It was just a sad miserable day.

Ajtut114 karma

What the most dangerous/poisonous chemical you have cleaned up and what caused it?

EnviroCleanMan210 karma

I have cleaned up alot of nasty stuff over the years. While it might not be the most Dangerous thing I clean up but Polychlorinated biphenyl aka PCB's have always scared the crap out of me. They have mutagenic effects on humans so its some very nasty stuff and it always scares me more then anything else I work with.

feathergrins98 karma

What kind of training did you have to go through? BBP, cross contamination, etc.? Do you ever go into medical buildings after they move/shut down or whatever and clean their Decon area? I only ask this because I work in a piercing and tattoo shop and I'm curious as to how one would completely decontaminate our area if we were to move and make it safe for the next tenants.

EnviroCleanMan121 karma

Training depends on the company and what you are actually going to be doing. The bare minimum for dealing with any type of chemical clean ups is the 40 hour Hazwopper. Its your general go to class for environmental clean up.

From there its all really up to your employer as to what training they give you.

For example I worked with this one company that required all foreman and above to take a week long confided space rescue training course. When you go into a confide space if something happens most companies rely on the fire department to get there to pull the person out. The problem is that most of the time the firefighters dont get there till about 30 minutes till after a person goes down and that's a long time when you have someone down in the hole. This leads to untrained people trying to go in and get them out and studies have proven that most of the time the fatality is not the person that goes down but the untrained people that goes in to rescue them. I always felt safer on jobs with rescue trained people, but to the company all it really meant was they could charge more for having rescue trained site on staff.

There are also a variety of of specialized classes you can take if your company sends you like rail car training for rail yards, and first responder training.

I have went into quite a few medical places to clean up after they are gone from hospital's to vets. When they are gone we go in with Tyveks and gloves and pretty much bleach everything down and take out the needles. When it comes to Blood and Mold remember Bleach is always your best friend. Its really just making sure everything is sterile and needles are disposed off. I never cleaned a Tattoo shop but I am sure its about the same.

AHonestTroll80 karma

You mentioned train derailments:

What was the most toxic load a train was carrying that you cleaned up?

Have you ever had to clean up a passenger train derailment?

EnviroCleanMan216 karma

The worst derailment I have ever cleaned up a rail car flipped and a few thousand gallons of acid spilled on the tracks can't remember exactly what type. When we got out to the site everything was dead, and I mean everything.

The ground was saturated and their was pools of green that looked like the ninja turtle ooze everywhere. We spent about 4 months out there removing all the soil.

My father did a clean up he told me about where a train carrying Chlorine Gas had wrecked near a development. People who heard the explosion and went out side, or left there windows open died where they stood or slept. They had to go around and mark the houses that had dead bodies and he said it was the worst one he had ever cleaned up.

I did one, one day were a train wrecked carrying BMW's, TV's, 4 Wheelers, and cigarettes. That was a sad wreck because we had to crush everything. When a train wrecks most of the time the rail road just buys everything on the train because its quicker to destroy it all instead of trying to salvage. I spent a weekend crushing car's and four wheelers that didn't have a thing wrong with them. Still have a few BMW keys laying around.

chooter25 karma

Where does the toxic soil get carted off to, if you know?

GOGOYEAH33 karma

No professional here, but I believe they take it to an incinerator to kill/destroy any harmful materials in the soil.

EnviroCleanMan47 karma

Correct, Oil products we try to recycle.

vashtiii76 karma

Have you ever been injured or contaminated? Also, is there anything you would refuse to clean up?

EnviroCleanMan185 karma

I have went down in a tank due to lack of oxygen.

Had my hand cut open by a pressure washer while cleaning some house house.

I have gotten sick after I got covered by human waste while cleaning up a oil spill that got into the sewer system. We were in a john boat in the sewer system trying to pressure was the walls. Everything was suppose to be locked out and tagged out but they forgot the place were they offloaded the portajohn trucks. I was trying to hold the boat in place while my buddy cleaned and next thing I know some dick emptied a truck directly onto us and the boat sinking the boat while we got pulled out by the tripods. I got sick for a few days from that it was bad.

Other then that I have been covered in oil and acid more times then I would like to count.

vashtiii64 karma

oh GOD

That sounds vile, man, really terrible. I can't even imagine.

EnviroCleanMan243 karma

Yeah that was a bad day. I was literally up shits creek without a paddle.

thiazzi170 karma

Is there much paperwork to fill in with regards to secrecy when it comes to working with big oil operations or rail yards?

EnviroCleanMan115 karma

When you pull up to a rail yard or oil refinery the first thing you have to do is check in and go through training. Most of these training programs are pretty much the same but you have to sit through them for each place. They also like to give out NDA's with the training courses where you promise not to talk about what you seen or did on the plant or yard.

One company I worked for made us sign paperwork that would protect them if we ever got contaminated on a project. This is stuff like we were aware of the risk, acknowledge we have proper training, and we know what we are doing type stuff. So if something does happen we cant sue.

paulchoixqc57 karma

[deleted]

EnviroCleanMan90 karma

All waste generated is regulated and tracked. When we clean something up it has to go to facilities that are designated by the state. Every truck load of dirt, or tank full of waste we take out is accounted for.

If its oil most of the time it goes to a oil recycling plant and its refined back into usable oil. (I have worked for one)

Other chemicals are sent off to planets be incinerated. (I have cleaned some up when they accidentally blew up.)

JarateIsAPissJar49 karma

What job would you not take?

EnviroCleanMan105 karma

I do not do anything with radiation you have to draw the line somewhere and it just scares me to much. I mean I don't mess with it at all.

I had a job at a nuclear plant that wanted us to go down near the reactor and clean off some old lead paint. We would have only been allowed down there for 15 minutes then we could not have any xrays or any other type of radiation for a year I said no. My work tried to pressure me into it but they finally let it go not willing to risk firing me over it.

I also was in a school doing a lab pack (We go collect all the old lab chemicals). I went in and made a list of everything that needed to be removed then when I thought I was done the janitor took me back through like 3 classrooms to some hidden room near the AC and showed me a box of disk that had radiation warnings all over them. I have no idea why these were in the school but I just walked out and called in somebody else to take care of it.

mrbz13444 karma

Hi! Thanks for doing this AMA! Have any of your co-workers been exposed to anything extremely dangerous? What happened afterwards? What are the precautions to decontaminate those that are exposed?

EnviroCleanMan81 karma

I had a good buddy of mine working at a pesticide plant that exploded. That was a mess and I to this day don't know what all was out there.

We were doing vac truck work sucking out puddles of this multi colored liquid and my friend who is heavier set ripped his suit when he bent down. When we were walking out this tank that had been on fire for days which we tried to put out with dry ice, and various other methods finally blew and he got misted by whatever was in that when were getting to the decon.

He was cut out of his suit and stripped but naked and scrubbed for like 30 mins then had to go under medical surveillance for a few weeks to make sure nothing happen to him.

WE_GO_NORTH44 karma

You mentioned you cleaned up the aftermath of a suicide

How often (compared to oil leaks, spills, chemical spills, etc) do you deal with human remains/clean up?

Ever done a crime scene clean up?

EnviroCleanMan70 karma

The suicides are rare. The people I work for / have worked for mostly focus on environmental clean up.

I have cleaned up a few crime scenes most notable would be one were a woman attacked and stabbed in the bathroom at a foodlion and she tried to escape through the store but bleed out before she got to the front.

naxon42 karma

What kind of education did you get to follow this profession?

EnviroCleanMan76 karma

High School degree for entry level work. Most of the time if you get a job with a company they will pay for your HazWopper and get your started right away.

This though leads to a lot of dumb people in dangerous situations which would not be so bad if having a moron on the site did not just endanger them but you as well.

hypoid7729 karma

[deleted]

EnviroCleanMan52 karma

On my end the clean up side of things I don't work with many people with degree's. Most of the people with Degree's work for Consulting firms and not the actually clean up firms.

Crashes55640 karma

Ever cleaned up somthing, that you did not know or understand but was just told to 'clean up anyways'??

EnviroCleanMan72 karma

Pigeon crap... I have had to clean it out of chruches and school attics as well as the bridges on interstates so they can do structural integrity test. I understand why we have to do it but really I mean come on its just poo..

Vego_nono36 karma

What is a normal day of work to you? Any specific routines and so on?

EnviroCleanMan49 karma

My normal day consist of doing regular scheduled jobs. This is everything from Mold Clean Up, to underground storage tank clean ups. These are normally projects that the company bids and picks up.

However a few times a week we get calls for emergencies most of the times these are wrecks that involved tractor trailers and their full tanks busted but once a month maybe every too we get a big call for a train derailment or a bad emergency at a plant like busted chemical lines.

I_Am_Sam_Vimes32 karma

Do you have kids and if so has your job affected your cleaning up after them?

EnviroCleanMan89 karma

I have a daughter that is now a little over a year. When I was growing up I was always afraid of cleaning up diapers or after the kid but now Its really nothing. I mean whats a little baby poo compared to what I cleaned over the years.

foundation_G29 karma

I just finished my HAZWOPER cert. I'm inspired to make this my career, how should I go about that?

EnviroCleanMan37 karma

A bunch of people have been asking this and I am going to try to break it down a little better. First off you really don't need a degree or anything to get into the field. The best thing to do is look up environmental clean up in your area and start watching those companies for job postings and apply.

While the work we do is somewhat crazy its not a hard profession to get into just have to apply for the job and get accepted.

Warning though this job is very extreme physical labor. You are going to do a lot do digger, pressure washing, and most of the time our work is in the summer due to the budget of our clients. So you are going to be out in the sun in chemical suits while you shovel.

Like I said though if your interested search for local environmental clean up firms and keep applying till you pick up a job.

genki-sama22 karma

What was the hardest thing you had to clean?

EnviroCleanMan61 karma

One of the worst jobs I did was a tractor trailer had hit a girl on a moped and dragged her for a half a mile before stopping. We had to clean the remains with shovels and a drum.

dougan2521 karma

Based on some of your other responses, it sounds like accidents due to ineptitude happen far too frequently (venting a generator into your oxygen intake, emptying sewage literally on your head, etc.).

Do they happen fairly often and why do you think so? Lack of training?

EnviroCleanMan36 karma

A lot of the accidents are due to people we are working with not really being well trained. For example with the sewage we had locked out and tagged out everything we were told feed into the system. The people we were working for forgot that the hook up for the portajohn trucks feed into the lines we were cleaning. By freak chance we just happen to be under the offload pipe when they unloaded.

Same thing really with the generator. Other contractors on the job seen our equipment and not knowing what it was for wanted to keep all the equipment in the same area to prevent work site clutter.

Most of the people I work with are well trained and while we have our share of morons we try to make sure they do task that nobody can get hurt doing.

We never put people in the position to watch us when we are working that we don't trust with our lifes because after all most of the time our lives are on the line.

KennethZonestar19 karma

Another Question for ya. What is the turnover rate like in your profession? I imagine the pay is rather decent and could be enticing but do you notice a lot of people get burnt out rather quickly?

EnviroCleanMan28 karma

Its a hard line of work to adjust to. We pick up about 2-3 a year and lose about 2-3 because they quit.

Vego_nono17 karma

What's the most common jobs you get?

EnviroCleanMan71 karma

Anything dealing with Oil. Truck wrecks are the most common emergency, and old gas station clean ups are the most regular job.

I really hate oil from how much I cleaned it up over the years and I think if more people experienced and seen the devastation it causes like I have over the years we would be a lot closer to finding a replacement for it.

LadyLucy7616 karma

I just recently moved near a rail yard, should I be concerned?

EnviroCleanMan25 karma

No you should be fine most of the stuff that goes down on the rail yard is contained. The problem with Rail Yards though is a lot of times cars will leak and they just ignore the problem.

Another problem with the rail roads is most of the time if there is a derailment Clean Up is a secondary concern. The Rail Roads number one priotrity is always to get the track up and running because its cost them millions every hour the track is shut down. This leads to a lot of standing around while they open up the tracks and a bunch of half ass clean ups on the actually tracks because they don't want to take the time to shut it down to clean it up like it needs to be.

For example when a rail car starts leaking fuel instead of digging up the track and removing the soil we are only allowed to go in and spray with bio-solves that break down the oil/fuel on the surface.

coke66616 karma

What kind of gear do you wear for HazMat operations? For PPE Gear. I was curious on what goes on to clean Meth Labs. Ever saw Breaking Bad? Is it realistic in terms of there equipment ? Or its not sufficient enough?

EnviroCleanMan39 karma

I have cleaned up plenty of Meth Houses and they are nasty nasty places. Most of the people become to paranoid to go outside so they start collecting trash in the house. Plus you always have to watch out for needles and other fun things like that.

As for equipment I never really got into Breaking Bad cause like I said I clean up meth houses and witness what they are and what they do to people first hand so I can't compare. The best way to describe equipment would be a crack heads chemistry set with a house full of random unknown chemicals.

When we go into a Meth house we have to remove everything down the the studs. Carpet, Cabinets, Dry Wall, if it can get taken out it must be removed. We also have to shovel out the couple roll off's full of trash they pile up in rooms.

Needless to say I hate Meth. Also For PPE its Tyvek Suits and really thick gloves so you don't get a needle in your hands.

Kluiver15 karma

How soon are you dispatched after an incident?

EnviroCleanMan26 karma

It depends on how quick they realize they need our services. Most of the time they rely on the fire departments for the little jobs but when the fire department realizes its to big for them we get called in.

It also depends on were the accident happen. For instance if its a big wreck blocking a major interstate most of the time we are called right away and usually have pick up police escorts on the way.

orbd12 karma

Jesus Christ this is a depressing AMA. Keep doing what you do man, I don't know many people who could do your line of work.

EnviroCleanMan22 karma

Thanks, its strange and sucks sometimes though. To me its just another day of work. The job has its ups and it has its down.

LiquidArrogance11 karma

You clean up homosexuals killed by genocide?

EnviroCleanMan19 karma

Sorry yeah just noticed that, was on my phone when I made the post were is spell check when you need it!

LiquidArrogance7 karma

*Where . . . lol ;D

EnviroCleanMan37 karma

Don't jude me! lol

DrLawesome9 karma

When you were on the job, did you ever take a crowbar and pretended you're Morgan Freeman?

edit: Is your HAZMAT suit orange?

EnviroCleanMan25 karma

No I do sometimes pretend my heavy equipment is a mech suit and I at war.

acebrit8 karma

With training and the time it takes to make your way to a decent wage would you say this is a reasonable "temp" job, or do you think one should do this only as a full-on career?

Is it difficult to get a job in this area, either in competition for the job, or a lot of heavy lifting or both?

Do you tend to work with the same people or all different? Do you work with mostly alright people or assholes? (Thanks for doing the AMA!)

EnviroCleanMan10 karma

If you want to get into the this field its best to get a full time job. There are staffing companies that higher and train people for hazmat, and hazardous clean up but the contracts almost always take advantage of temps and work them under the table.

Also remember you make far more money working directly for a company instead of a temp agency. Temp Agencies charge us like 25+ a hour for temps but only pay them 10-12.

cu_mu_lu_s6 karma

What is a situation that you would always want to run from?

EnviroCleanMan23 karma

Anything with Radiation. I was cleaning some oil storage tanks on a nuclear plant one day and a tornado warning started before we went into the plant. My crew went to go check in then took shelter in some trailer in a field. I got yelled at because I would note come in from the truck. I kindly told them to feel free to send me home because that just said Scifi B movie all over it.

Pork_Lift4 karma

Do you have cancer yet?

EnviroCleanMan40 karma

You joke but that is something that concerns me daily. I have been exposed to a lot of chemicals. From Asbestos to PCB's and getting cancer is something that is always on the back of my mind. When I was younger I use to skimp or hate wearing all the full protection required and I just hope that in my youth I didn't do something dumb that will end up killing me.

Sad fact is I will not know for about 10 more years so till then all I can do is hope for the best.

WINK18143 karma

I've dabbled in HAZMAT with my workplace. Hazwopper and Scba training mostly with flammable and corrosive chemicals. How would I get into this line of work and how is the pay?

EnviroCleanMan8 karma

If you want to get into the field start searching for environmental clean up companies located around you. If you have Hazwopper already its alot easier to get into the door.

I live on the east coast and with no experience pay starts around 12-15 a hour.

acrosonic3 karma

There was a train derailment years ago in my town. They closed down the major road next to the spill for hours. It wasn't on the road road by the way. The spill was activated carbon. Ummmm can activate carbon be a problem? Isn't it used to clean up some chemical spills?

EnviroCleanMan7 karma

Not that I am aware of off the top of my head. Teach you a trick though we use the Emergency Response Guide as our bible and if you ever have any questions about a chemical what it does, how to clean it up, if you should run just check this out. You can buy it pretty easily.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Response_Guidebook

HAHA_goats3 karma

What's your favorite/most enjoyable job at work?

EnviroCleanMan5 karma

Running Heavy Machinery. I grew up playing a lot of video games so running heavy machinery came naturally. When your loading trucks, or moving dirt it always beats being on the end of a shovel.

Most of the time a radio in the equipment and if we are really lucky we have a AC.

A lot of the time we will still be in chemical suits in the equipment so the AC helps. You are also most of the time hooked to your own very big bottle of air so you can turn the air on so its constantly flowing so it works as sort of a personally AC.

bornes2 karma

This is probably a dumb question but are SCBAs involved in every job or only the "more hazardous" ones?

HAZMAT cleanup is something I've been interested in, and did a small bit while in the US Navy. But when I'm not wearing an SCBA I dry heave all over the place because of the smells. Is it worth it to try and pursue the occupation anyway?

Thank you for your time and thank you for the AMA.

EnviroCleanMan3 karma

No SCBA's are only really used in the worst environments and we don't really like to work with them on. For example if you get called into a wreck and a truck had chemicals on it but you don't know what you have to go in with the highest PPE thats Level A with SCBA. Once we find out what it is we down grade.

SCBA's only give you about 30 mins or so of oxygen then you have to get out of the environment so you cant work that long. Most of the time if we need air we go in on a compressor, but for most of the stuff we clean up its full face respirators or half face respirators with different cartridges for chemicals.

For smells if its organic you can always wear OV (Originate Vapor) cartridges which eliminate organic vapors.

mumle2 karma

How is the lunchbreak?

EnviroCleanMan5 karma

Its Daddy Daughter Day! As long as I don't get a emergency call!

TGrady9022 karma

How did you get into the business? I'm currently considering trying to do something similar or identical to what you are doing.

EnviroCleanMan3 karma

I got lucky and my dad got me into the job. Everyone else I worked with got in through applying at multiple different firms. CDL's help because they are always looking for drivers to help move equipment.