Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials are comprised of substances that are either flammable or combustible, explosive, toxic, noxious, corrosive, oxidizers or radioactive. Business types that commonly use hazardous materials locally include:
  • Aircraft industry
  • Chemical distributors
  • Cold storage companies
  • Communication industry
  • Fuel industries
  • High technology firms
  • Hospitals
  • Metal plating and finishing
  • Public utilities
  • Research
  • Schools
Each of these facilities is required to maintain plans for warning, notification, evacuation and site security under various regulations. Hazardous materials incidences are generally associated with transportation accidents or accidents at fixed facilities.

Hazardous materials may also be released as a secondary result of natural disasters such as wild land fire and floods. In either case, building or vehicles can release their hazardous materials inventories when they are structurally compromised or are involved in traffic accidents. Pipelines can be exposed or ruptured from collapsed embankments, road washouts, bridge collapses, and fractures in roadways.

Hazardous materials spills might cause the short term or long term evacuation of an affected area. Depending on the nature of the spill and local weather conditions, residences, businesses, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and roadways may be evacuated or closed to traffic until cleanup can be affected.

Hazardous materials are transported throughout the county through a variety of transportation modes. These modes include road, rail, aircraft and pipeline. Each of these modes presents different and unique risks of potential release or spill while in transit as well as differing levels of impact once the release or spill has occurred. For the most part, the transport of hazardous materials within the county includes the movement of materials from producers to users, producers to distributors, between storage and use facilities, and hazardous waste materials moving from use to disposal facilities.


The roadway network through Wadena County includes one medium priority Interregional Corridor, U.S. Highway 10 and one Regional Corridor, U.S. Highway 71. As well, there are links to the many communities throughout the county. The degree of impact from a hazardous material related release or spill is dependent on the proximity of the vehicle to population densities, concentrated development and environmentally sensitive areas when the event occurs.

Running along the Southern boundaries of the county from the East and West is one of busiest rail lines in the state. The impacts of rail related hazardous material releases or spills carry the potential of being great due to the amount of rail traffic within the county as well as the close proximity of rail lines to population centers. Types of potential hazardous material releases along the county’s rail corridors includes, but is not limited to valve leakage, safety valve releases, which carries the potential of releasing hazardous material in the form of liquid or gases in addition to release or spill due to derailment, collision, or similar accident. Such accidents carry the potential of releasing hundreds to thousands of gallons of material within areas along rail corridors.

Within Wadena County there is 1 airport facility, which is located in North Staples. As with all airport facilities and air travel in general, hazardous materials transported by air travel or stored at airport facilities carry the potential of posing risk to life, property, and the environment.

Within Wadena County is a series of pipelines carrying flammable liquids and gases. Many of these pipelines are located close to and within in cities of Wadena County. Due to the sensitivity of pipeline data the pipelines map is removed from all public copies of this plan, however the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety is one of nine state offices to be a state repository for the National Pipeline Mapping System. All inquiries as to the viewing of this map can also be directed to Wadena County Emergency Management.

National Hazardous Incidents
Hazardous materials accidents can and have occurred anywhere. Communities like those in the TH10/BNSF Corridor of Wadena County are particularly at risk. However, hazardous materials are transported on all roadways daily, so any area is considered vulnerable to an accident. The table below identifies incidents in Wadena County.
Mode of Transportation
Number of Accidents
Associated Deaths
Associated Injuries
Air 1,220 0 153
Highway 41,781 79 1,569
Railway 7,886 1 423
Water 83 1 35
Other 29 0 2
Total 50,999 81 2,182
Various facilities throughout Wadena county hold hazardous materials. Some of these materials include flammable liquids, fuels, acids, corrosive materials, and other materials. Each facility exceeding minimum thresholds for material amounts can be found in appendix D of this plan. Each of these facilities must file a Risk Management Plan with the county Emergency Management Office, the State Emergency Response Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Each of these plans provide information on the hazardous materials maintained onsite, the risk associated with those materials, potential area affected, and other information as required by the Emergency Response Commission.

Local Spills

Wadena county has had a history of hazardous material spills, accidents, and similar events in the past. This is due largely to the major roadway and railway transportation corridors, pipelines, and fixed facilities within the county. Through the excellent work of local and state emergency response professionals, these events have amounted in a relatively small impact to the overall county population. The following is an inventory of hazardous material related events as reported by the National Response Center.

Incident Date Street
Type of Incident
Medium Affected
Material Name
March 27, 1991
Route 1 & County Road 101
Wadena Mobile Water Untreated human waste
December 20, 1992
Mile 158.2
Verndale Railroad Rail Report (n/a)
January 7, 1994
DOT Number 062749 L
Staples Railroad Nonrelease
Rail Report (n/a)
January 8, 1994
Wadena Sales
Wadena Pipeline Unknown Null
August 18, 1995
DOT Crossing Number 0627790
Wadena Railroad Nonrelease
Rail Report (n/a)
March 11, 1996
Mile 163.3
Wadena Railroad Rail Report (n/a)
January 9, 1997
Off Highway 10
Verndale Fixed Land Polychlorinated Biphenyls
April 1, 1998
600 SE 5th Street
Wadena Fixed Unknown Chromic Acid (5-20%)
April 1, 1998
600 SE 5th Street
Wadena Fixed Unknown Chromium salt (5-20%)
September 3, 1998
Mile 163.4
Wadena Railroad Nonrelease
Rail Report (n/a)
May 19, 2000
Jefferson Street crossing
Wadena Railroad Nonrelease
Null Null
June 15, 2000
1 mile east of Wadena on U.S. Highway 10
Wadena Storage Tank
Air Anhydrous ammonia