We’ve got a very full newsletter this month!
In this edition, we provide a review of Hazmat 2014, announce the exciting launch of Pocket Chemdata® for use with Apple® devices, and give details of interesting calls, the Chemical Safety Seminar in Mumbai and the availability of our emergency telephone requirements guide.
I hope you enjoy reading our newsletter and if there is anything you would like us to feature in the coming months, then please feel free to contact me.
Director: Chemical Risk Management (NCEC)
T: +44 (0) 1235 753654
Further to our recent survey on the use and services of poison centres, we will be holding a webinar in partnership with Chemical Watch, the Chemical Business Association and the European
Commision. The webinar is being broadcast live on 27 May 2014 and registrants will have the opportunity to download a recording after the event. There is no charge to register for the webinar – to register click here.
We have also created a white paper which cover both the findings of the survey as well as practical advice for working with poison centres. To download the white paper click here
The Hazmat event has continued to demonstrate itself as one of the leading forums for hazardous materials response, chemical exposure and monitoring, and emergency planning.
Attendance at this year’s event was the highest in the last 5 years. Attendees were able to experience the usual mix of keynote presentations from industry stakeholders and practical workshops.
We are pleased to announce that Pocket Chemdata is now available as an app for use with Apple devices. The app has now completed and passed extensive testing and has been released on the App Store SM.
The new app enables Pocket Chemdata licence holders to access the full Chemdata database and includes English, Dutch, French, German and Spanish translations.
Functionality includes the ability to add your own notes to documents, share those notes with other Chemdata users in your organisation and to export a history of your actions that can be used as an audit trail if required. Users who do not have a current Pocket Chemdata licence will still be able to search the full Chemdata database, but they will only be able to access very limited data such as UN number, Emergency Action Code (EAC), physical form, synonyms and road transport classification.
NCEC was recently called by a hazmat officer from a fire and rescue service who was en route to a company with an ammonia leak thought to be caused by a substance mixing with water. The caller did not know the scale of the incident or whether an ammonia alarm had been triggered at the site. As the incident was close to NCEC’s offices in Oxfordshire, the hazmat officer wanted to know if it would be possible for our Chemsafe Adviser to attend the scene and provide advice if required. Our Chemsafe Manager confirmed that this would be possible if necessary. It later transpired that a very small amount of ammonia had been produced from a few grams of chemical compound mixing with water and it was actually the powder material that had triggered the alarm.
The room had been externally ventilated through the air-conditioning system and there was no obvious smell remaining. Therefore, the caller only required telephone advice, but wanted to know whether ammonia could paralyse the sense of smell in the same that hydrogen sulfide could. Our duty Emergency Responder advised that this would not be the case. It was also pointed out by our Responder that if there was no obvious smell and no ill effects had been observed in those present in the building without breathing apparatus, then there was unlikely to be any significant quantity of ammonia still present. The air-conditioning was checked to ensure it had ventilated the room externally and that other parts of the building had not be affected inadvertently. The incident was handed back to the company for clean-up of the remaining residues.
NCEC is willing to assist the emergency services in any way possible to help resolve incidents as quickly and efficiently as possible to minimise disruption and maximise available support during chemical incidents.
NCEC recently received a call from a fire and rescue service officer who was dealing with an incident where a child had combined several chemicals and then lit the mixture while still indoors. To ensure the fire crew was suitably prepared when entering the house, the caller wanted to know what the child had made and what hazards would present.
NCEC’s duty Emergency Responder explained that the child had made a crude form of gunpowder and gave advice about the combustion products that would be present in the house. Gunpowder is typically stable, so the Responder advised that the fire crew would be safe to enter the house wearing breathing apparatus and that the house should be ventilated. Our Responder also explained that a strong smell would remain after ventilation, but that this is typical of gunpowder and not dangerous.
The ambulance-service crew attending the incident wanted to know if the child needed to be decontaminated before being transported to hospital. Our Responder was able to reassure the crew that any harmful gases would dissipate rapidly and the smell of gunpowder that may be on the child's clothes would not indicate dangerous contamination. Given that the child had inhaled the fumes from the crude explosive, it was recommended that the child be monitored for 48 hours for symptoms of pulmonary oedema.
The fire and rescue service was able to make the house safe and resolve the incident without requiring the attendance of a military bomb disposal team, despite the incident involving explosives. This illustrates how rapid access to specialist advice from NCEC can help responders to control incidents, thus preventing unnecessary, and potentially costly, escalation.
An articulated tanker carrying liquid nitrogen was involved in a road traffic collision with a tractor. As a result of the collision, the liquid nitrogen tank had sustained damage to the valve assembly and pumps, but had not been breached. This presented an interesting challenge for the recovery of the vehicle, as the damage prevented the load from being transferred to another tanker. Meanwhile, the liquid nitrogen was boiling and pressure was rising in the tank.
The tanker driver was manually releasing the pressure, while the owner of the vehicle was sending a team to lift the entire tanker onto a flatbed recovery vehicle. There was concern that while the damaged tanker was in transit back to the depot, no one would be able to manually release the pressure. A fire officer attending the incident contacted NCEC to find out if the resulting pressure rise would pose a risk to the public.
NCEC’s Emergency Responder explained that the increased airflow over the tank while it was in motion would help reduce the pressure build up. Our Responder discussed the possibility of the tank rupturing and agreed that tankers of this kind could undergo a boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion (BLEVE), but explained that it was unlikely. The tanker would be equipped with a main pressure release valve. This would automatically activate when the pressure rose and prevent the tank pressure rising above a safe level. Our Responder explained that the valve would release clouds of cooled nitrogen vapour that could obscure the roadway. It was suggested that an escort car accompany the vehicle, in a similar manner to a long load, which would prevent other road users from driving too close to the tank and help mitigate any risk to the public.
NCEC is a valuable source of advice and is frequently contacted by emergency service responders to discuss incident remediation. Having a highly experienced Emergency Responder available 24/7 to review and validate an action plan is invaluable, especially in high stress, emergency situations.
An officer from an East Midlands fire and rescue service recently contacted NCEC while attending an incident at a research laboratory. The officer had been told that a mixture that included sulfuric acid was evolving a gas. Two fire service personnel in gas-tight suits had been committed to investigate the incident, but further information was being sought about the dangers of the mixture.
NCEC’s duty Emergency Responder briefed the caller on the hazards of the chemicals, explaining that the mixture would be highly corrosive and strongly oxidising. Our Responder explained that, under certain circumstances, the mixture can react with ketones and ethers to form an explosive substance. The Responder suggested that the reacting mixture could be placed in one of the laboratory’s fume hoods to ensure proper ventilation until the reaction stopped.
Access to NCEC’s wide chemical expertise enables emergency service responders to make informed decisions regarding chemical risk when dealing with complex scenarios.
NCEC presented at the ‘Chemical Safety Seminar: Standards and Regulations’ in Mumbai, a workshop jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) Institute of Quality, New Delhi; and Sustainability Support Services (Europe) AB, Sweden. The seminar was also supported by India’s National Institute of Disaster Management; the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS); and REACH Support, Nagpur. Read more...
It is essential that you have a clear understanding of the emergency telephone numbers that should be included as part of chemical manufacturing, importing and general logistics processes to ensure you remain compliant. To help with this, NCEC has made available a free online guide about the regulations and how they may impact you.
To view the guide, please click here.
Alternatively, call 01235 753654 to discuss how we can help your organisation achieve compliance.
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