In this issue, we provide Ebola guidance for firefighters, announce the launch of the Global Chemical Congress, get insight into a decade of the Hazchem Network, as well as providing our complimentary crisis management white paper and webinar.
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
October 2014 saw a proliferation of news coverage about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and beyond. The first case in the most recent outbreak occurred in Guinea in late 2013. Since then, the virus has spread to neighbouring countries and, more recently, further afield, as healthcare workers in the USA and Spain test positive for Ebola. The UK’s response is stepping up, with four UK airports now screening passengers arriving from West Afica.
The statistics on Ebola make for grim reading. There is a 70% fatality rate among those testing positive for the virus. The World Health Organisation estimates that, by December, there could be up to 10,000 cases per week. With an incubation period of up to 21 days, unless prompt and drastic action is taken to stop the explosion of cases, it seems inevitable that case will occur in the UK.
A recent national exercise set out to test the preparedness of the emergency services for an Ebola outbreak, with an emphasis on the capabilities of medical professionals, Public Health England and the Government response. It is possible, though, for other emergency responders to come into contact with Ebola victims, for example when assisting medical staff. What advice in this situation should firefighters follow?
The Hazardous Materials Commission of the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services (CTIF), of which NCEC’s Dan Haggarty is a contributing member, has just published a guidance document on Ebola, which is designed specifically for the needs of firefighters. Covering transmission, treatment, containment, protection and disinfection, the guidance brings together all the key facts and proposes a quick risk assessment process.
The CTIF document is available here
Over the last couple of years we have received significant interest from companies around the world who would like to develop a greater understanding of international chemical regulations, best practice for chemical incidents and dealing with a major crisis. To meet the requirements of the requests received, and building on the success of NCEC's 40th anniversary event, we have created the Global Chemical Congress.
For more information on the congress please click here
NCEC is working with a number of customers to not only help support their chemical regulatory compliance and chemical incident requirements, but also to support their wider organisation incidents and crisis. We have developed a short white paper to provide guidance on incident and crisis management best practice, with practical considerations for your own crisis management and business continuity management plans. To download the white paper please click here.
In addition to the white paper we will be holding a crisis management webinar at 9am on Thursday 27 November, to book onto the webinar please click here.
On 8 October 2014, the Hazchem Network, the UK’s only pallet network for the carriage of packaged dangerous goods, celebrated a decade of trade. Prior to opening its doors, the Hazchem Network was subject to extensive planning. One crucial aspect of this planning was to involve NCEC. We needed to ensure that we offered our member companies, and their customers, the best possible technical support. We worked with the chemists at NCEC to produce a unique chemical database. This was incorporated within our secure online software that linked UN numbers to mandatory carriage information. We also bought, under licence from NCEC, the ‘Tremcard’ suite and, crucially, NCEC’s Chemdata, the premier chemicals database, which provides Hazchem Network’s infrastructure with key information to manage the business. We also used NCEC’s training resource to provide all of our staff with chemical awareness training. Since then, NCEC has used our training rooms in Rugby for external training sessions and more are planned for 2015.
NCEC is not just another ‘supplier’ and ‘cost’ to our business. In my experience, NCEC’s ethos is partnership. As we progressed and traversed the slings and arrows of our first decade in business, such as surviving the global economic crisis initiated in 2008 by the fall of the mighty Lehman Brothers, it was crucial to have NCEC by our side.
In keeping our Hazchem Network-VIGO UN Database current, we get updates twice a year from NCEC. In 2007, important updates from NCEC (in conjunction with the Hazchem Network) included incorporating the category ‘High Consequence Dangerous Goods’ (HCDG) for packages of Class 2.3 (Toxic Gases) and 6.1 (Toxic Products of PG I) reflecting the inclusion of security into the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR). Then, in 2009, again with assistance from NCEC, we incorporated the Tunnel Codes (a requirement under ADR) into our software platform.
When the ADR regulations changed with the introduction of the ‘All-Classes’ Instructions in Writing’ (also known as Tremcard), thanks to help from NCEC (and the Department for Transport (DfT)), we set up the www.hers-info.com consortium. This is a unique service for robustly managing level I, II and III chemical incidents. It protects our member companies, their customers, road users, the environment and the general public.
Our venture with NCEC and Braemar Howells was endorsed by the DfT:
"In order to minimise the obvious and inherent risks in transporting dangerous goods it is vital that the goods are packed and carried in a way that prevents leakage and protects the population, environment and economy. When something goes wrong and a leakage or spillage happens, it is important for all concerned that the situation is dealt with as effectively and as quickly as possible. The Hazchem Emergency Response Service (HERS) initiative clearly has a role to play in this regard and is to be welcomed.”
Caroline Billingham - Head of Regulation and Enforcement
Dangerous Goods Division - Department for Transport
So, reflecting back at the first decade of the Hazchem Network, we smile at our first night of trade (8 October 2004) that involved transhipping 43 pallets because, in 2014, we’re transhipping well over 1,000 pallets and 300 parcels a night. We have seen a steady expansion of our services during our first decade of existence, including the addition of parcel service and half pallets, as well as providing services into Europe.
Hazchem Network continues to grow, with currently 53 member companies/depots in the UK and Republic of Ireland as well as mainland Europe.
I would suggest, if you work in the Hazardous Goods Sector, then it is vital you work with the experts in the field – NCEC. If you require any assistance in the logistics of dangerous goods by a private company that works with NCEC, please feel free to contact www.hazchemnetwork.co.uk as we enter our second decade, and NCEC its fifth decade of existence.
Two cleaners at a caravan park were admitted to hospital, after discovering what they described as a ‘meth lab’ in a caravan. The fire and rescue service was informed, but had little information on the contents of the caravan apart from being told there was a vessel that had become very hot and was producing a noxious gas.’
While travelling to the scene, the fire and rescue crew contacted NCEC for advice. Our Emergency Responder explained the various methods of illicit methamphetamine (meth) manufacture and the hazards they would pose to fire crews and others at the scene. One method liberates highly toxic phosphine gas as a by-product, necessitating the use of gas-tight chemical protective suits. Another method uses metallic lithium, which reacts violently with water, giving off hydrogen gas and poses a significant explosion risk. The fire service decided to request a specialist detection, identification and monitoring crew to attend the incident to help identify the chemicals involved. However, when the fire service arrived on scene they discovered that the cleaners had been mixing cleaning chemicals in a bucket and accidentally gassed themselves – there was no methamphetamine laboratory to be found.
NCEC can rapidly brief first responders on the hazards of complex scenarios, so they can be confident that they are fully prepared and protected, regardless of what they face on scene.
Often, NCEC’s role is to prevent an emergency situation from escalating. By providing first responders with the knowledge they need to ensure their safety and that assistance from specialist contractors or the emergency services can be avoided. However, in some incidents, first responders may not be equipped to resolve complex and dangerous situations. In such cases, we can provide the details or contact relevant emergency services on the phone or provide access to specialist remediation contractors to help with the incident through our ChemRespond service, a powerful online solution for the identification and management of chemical incident remediation companies around the world.’.
This was part of NCEC’s involvement in a recent incident. In the East Midlands, a fire and rescue crew was attending an incident at an electroplating firm where staff had accidentally added the wrong chemical to an electroplating solution. The crew was concerned that the firm may have accidentally made an explosive and were in the process of evacuating the adjacent student accommodation, which was full of students arriving for the new academic year. NCEC’s Emergency Responder discussed the chemicals involved with the crew and concluded that there was a very real risk that the company had created an explosive substance. When dealing with such a substance in the centre of a city, very specialist assistance is required. NCEC provided the crew with the contact details of the Joint Service Explosive Ordinance Disposal, which arranged for a military bomb disposal team to attend and assess the situation.
NCEC endeavours to help first responders to de-escalate incidents, but also has a wide range of specialist contacts and partnerships. So, when you need assistance, NCEC can put you in touch with the right people quickly.
A West Midlands fire and rescue crew contacted NCEC for advice about a scrap-metal fire involving 70 tonnes of mixed metal swarf at a recycling company. Metal fires can burn at a high temperature and the crew was considering whether or not to extinguish the fire with a heavy coating of foam or to let it burn out.
NCEC’s Emergency Responder explained that the smoke plume from the burning metals would contain toxic metal oxides, so the crew decided to extinguish the fire using a concentrated foam. However, this was not effective, so the crew contacted NCEC again for further advice. It was decided to use a more dilute foam as this would penetrate the stack of metal better. However, NCEC’s Emergency Responder pointed out that the heat from the fire may simply boil off the dilute foam; that using diluted foam would increase water run-off, which would need to be contained as it would be carrying metal oxides; and that if the dilute foam did not extinguish the fire, applying sand would. The crew had access to a long-reach grabber and was considering dismantling the stacks to cool the interior of the stack. While agreeing that this approach would cool the interior, our Emergency Responder warned that if the stacks were dismantled, then the increased surface area would intensify the fire. It was suggested that the crew should attempt to dismantle one stack and assess how effective this approach was. By following this advice, the crew successfully extinguished the fire using the dilute foam.
NCEC’s Emergency Responders are always available to discuss the tactical response to incidents. Having the input of an experienced chemist when dealing with an incident helps on-scene responders to have a full appreciation of the chemical consequences and reach an effective solution.
The circular economy is a concept that has caught the imagination of many people in recent years. Although it is not yet a widely used phrase in the chemicals sector, it is hugely relevant and reveals risks and opportunities for those involved in chemicals supply chains.
A circular economy is one in which resources and materials are renewable – they are either grown or they are recycled. This simple principle is attracting the interest of businesses and policy makers largely because of the growing ‘global resource crunch’ – the immovable object of diminishing finite resources versus the irresistible force of growing consumer demand across the world. As the supply of conventional feedstocks becomes increasingly restricted, so there is a need to find new, sustainable sources of raw materials.
Chemicals companies are being pushed (or pulled) in a similar direction by other factors too. Many companies are seeing considerable consumer demand for bio-based or green products, as well as tightening regulations, such as in the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation.. Increasingly, European policies are encouraging the reporting of Product Environmental Footprints (PEFs) of a wide range of products, through environmental product declarations (EPDs). These are already mandatory for some products in some countries and this may extend to all of Europe by 2017.
The European Commission is rightly concerned about future resource security and has identified 20 critical raw materials – critical on the basis of importance to the European economy and supply risk.
For all of these reasons, companies old and new need to look at their feedstocks and consider more future-proof alternatives. Those businesses that ask these questions and are prepared to innovate or change are those that will thrive in the coming decades.
Here, we look at two circular economy opportunities – finding renewable feedstocks and leasing chemicals.
Substituting a mineral-based formulation with a bio-based one is often presented as a green success, but this is not always the case. Any feedstock that has to be grown in a way that competes for land or water resources used for food production is, ultimately, not going to be a great solution. This was seen with first generation biofuels and the ensuing food versus fuel controversy.
However, the opportunities to extract chemical feedstocks from waste and by-products from different supply chains appear to be substantial. It has been estimated that the amount of organic carbon present in global food supply wastes is almost the same as the amount of carbon the world uses in all of the chemicals today*. This gives the basis for a bioresource revolution that has, arguably, already started in laboratories and factories across the world. The worldwide market for renewable chemicals is estimated at USD57 billion and is forecast to rise to USD83 billion by 2018*. Using a range of processes, different types of waste biomass are being used to produce agro-chemicals, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, solvents, adhesives, waxes, surfactants, textiles, plastics and more.
Sources of renewable feedstocks do not stop with waste biomass. Mineral-based chemicals will still be needed in the future but, increasingly, these are likely to be sourced by recycling the more valuable molecules. As an example, pioneering companies are extracting phosphate molecules from sewage to replace phosphate rock (one of the 20 critical raw materials for Europe) for use in agricultural fertiliser.
Companies wanting to find such renewable sources of key chemicals will need to look at a wide range wastes from across different supply chains, and assess the economic and logistics aspects. Manufacturers would also do well to look at their own wastes – even if they are no longer being sent to landfill, is the highest value being obtained from them? Ricardo-AEA can help you assess these opportunities, find innovation partners and access innovation funding.
‘Leasing chemicals’ is a handy term to refer to something potentially more game-changing than the phrase implies. Most of the consumer economy, chemicals sector included, is run on the basis of selling materials and products through the supply chain to the consumer – the more sold, the greater the profit. An alternative business model that is more suitable for a resource-constrained world involves selling the function of a product rather than the product itself. In academic circles, this is called a ‘product-service system’.
An example of this in the chemicals sector is leasing solvents. The solvent supplier sells the service of solvent-cleaning rather than the solvent itself. This business model turns conventional incentives on their head. The income and profit of end users is based on, say, each square metre of metal that is cleaned. This motivates them to do this as efficiently as possible, minimising solvent use and maximising solvent recycling. Ultimately, it may mean using alternative solvents or cleaning methods that avoid the use of expensive solvents entirely.
Selling product function has the potential to be used much more widely across the chemicals sector and could be a dominant business model in a developing circular economy.
A good starting point for any business interested in circular economy opportunities would be to carry out an assessment of supply risks for their key feedstocks – including the impact of new regulations.
Businesses looking to find new renewable feedstocks may need help with accessing data on sources and properties of potential feedstocks. An important part of this process is carrying out comparative environmental and economic assessments. Using lifecycle assessment (LCA) tools to assess environmental performance is also needed as the basis for credible sustainability reporting to customers.
Those wanting to develop new business models will need to analyse different versions and assess the market. They may also need to collaborate with supply chain partners to develop and run the new service.
Ricardo-AEA is well placed to help you with any of this assessment, modelling and support. We have considerable experience and connections in the chemicals sector, renowned expertise in environmental, economic and market assessment, and an experienced circular economy team helping organisations to understand and act on circular economy opportunities.
For more information on our work on circular economy, resource risks, resource efficiency and supply chain management, please click here, or contact:
Roland Arnison, Senior Consultant – Circular Economy.
Tel: +44 (0) 1235 753684
*Quoted in Waste or resource? Stimulating a bioeconomy, House of Lords, 2014