Interesting calls - April 2011

Biocides Theft

NCEC recently received a call from a Police Sergeant who was investigating the theft of a number of biocides from a secure location. The Sergeant was concerned that the products could be used to poison a water supply or have other terrorist uses.

Our Emergency Responder advised the caller of the hazards of the products, namely that they were environmentally hazardous, and liaised with the manufacturers to determine the likely motivation for the theft and the potential for terrorist or clandestine use.

Our Emergency Responder, in consultation with the product specialists, determined that the threat to public safety through misuse of the products was minimal and that there was no obvious motivation for the theft. Our Emergency Responder advised the caller the most appropriate PPE for dealing with the products once they were recovered.

Immediate access to advice like this means the incident can be dealt with quickly and calmly; our team of highly trained chemists work behind the scenes to gather all of the data and give you a single point of contact for concise and precise information.

Fire at Pharmaceuticals Warehouse

NCEC recently received a call from a HMEPO regarding a large warehouse fire involving a number of pharmaceutical products. Around 100 Fire and Rescue Service personnel were in attendance.

Our Emergency Responder advised the HMEPO of the hazards to health and the environment of each of the products, their thermal decomposition products, and methods for decontamination.

Furthermore, our Emergency Responder recommended the levels of PPE for both fire fighting and clean-up operations.  By ensuring that local residents were advised to stay indoors with windows and doors closed and run-off water collected, the threat to public health and the environment was minimised.

Immediate access to in-depth chemical knowledge means that the incident can be dealt with in a calm and informed manner with all the risks and environmental aspects considered.

New Emergency Responders

Neil ThomasNeil Thomas joined NCEC's Emergency Response team in 2010, following many years working in the nuclear research field and various manufacturing industries. As part of the team, he answers telephone calls from across the world to give advice in the event of a chemical incident.


 Tabitha PetcheyTabitha Petchey joined the Emergency Response team in January 2011. She graduated in 2010 with a Master of Chemistry degree from the University of York which involved a year of novel research in the Liquid Crystals Group at the University. During her undergraduate degree she specialised in environmental chemistry. She has also volunteered during spare time in the original Oxfam shop on Broad Street, Oxford, and another on Low Petergate in York since 2007.