Welcome to the NCEC Newsletter and thank you for reading

In this issue we:

We are also pleased to announce the winner of our recent customer survey prize draw - our congratulations to 4POLE.

I hope you enjoy reading our newsletter and if there is anything you would like us to feature in future issues, then please feel free to contact me.

Daniel Haggarty of the National Chemical Emergency Centre

Dan Haggarty

Head of Emergency Response

National Chemical Emergency Centre

E: ncec@ricardo.com

T: +44 (0) 1235 753654



Interesting calls 


Don't try this at home 




NCEC often receives calls regarding chemical ‘inventions’ that have not worked quite as planned. In this case, a fire and rescue service (FRS) was called to a property where the resident had attempted to make a homemade battery charger .

The resident had mixed various items, including fruit and vegetable peelings, with water to make a putty. The intention was to place this in the body of a lead acid battery to recharge it. The resident claimed that this was capable of generating enough current to recharge his mobile phone. However, the FRS crew measured elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the property and was concerned for the health of the resident, so contacted NCEC for advice.

NCEC’s emergency responder suggested that the fermenting plant matter in the device could be the source of the carbon monoxide in the property. However, our emergency responder pointed out that the plant matter was much more likely to produce carbon dioxide or methane and recommended that the FRS crew should check for another source of the gas.




Curbing the impact 


A West Midlands FRS was called to a fire at a site where large quantities of chemical oils were stored. The FRS crew was concerned that the plume from the fire might pose a hazard to nearby residents, so contacted NCEC for advice. Our emergency responder explained that the oils would burn cleanly and the combustion products would not contain any unusual chemicals.

The FRS was also concerned that the site was surrounded by watercourses, which could become contaminated by the oils and runoff water used to fight the fire. NCEC explained that the oils would fuel the fire, making it difficult to extinguish. It was suggested that, instead of trying to fight the fire, the FRS could allow the oils to burn in a controlled manner. This would reduce the environmental impact of the incident because less water would be used, so reducing the amount that could enter the watercourse.

By working closely with the emergency services when dealing with major incidents, NCEC’s responders enhance their world-class skills. This means they have unrivalled experience that can be called upon when dealing with any chemical incident, regardless of how severe it might be.


emergency response


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NCEC marks 500th customer with industry roundtable on chemical

supply chain best practice 



The UK’s National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC) has celebrated achieving its 500th private sector customer by publishing a free roundtable article from its annual practitioners’ forum on supply chain best practice with leading chemical companies. 

The 2016 forum was attended by several major chemical companies with a combined annual sales revenue of $120bn per annum. For the first time NCEC and its partners have published the outcomes of this annual meeting to provide insight into what some of the world’s leading chemical companies consider best practice for protecting people, property and the environment across the global supply chain.

Read more





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What does best practice mean to industry?  


Chemical companies play critical roles in developing best practice in risk mitigation and crisis management - with industry initiatives such as Responsible Care demonstrating this drive to continually improve protection for people and the environment.

In early 2016, the National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC) hosted a forum on supply chain best practice with representatives from influential private sector partners at the forefront of industry. The forum provided an opportunity for product and transport safety managers and SHEQ executives to network, share best practice on day-to-day chemical safety and offer insight into improving safety across the sector.

Read the full article on our blog





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HAZMAT 2016: Review 





Hazmat 2016 was a great success. Delegates particularly commented on the variety of the topics covered at the free workshops and the coordination of the event as a whole.

The two-day conference was opened by Dave Walton, Hazmat Lead at the Chief Fire Officers Association and a long-term supporter of the event. David Hargreaves from the National CBRN Centre then gave a presentation highlighting the core differences between hazmat, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) incidents. The keynote sessions were concluded by Fay Pasani of the National Operational Guidance Programme who spoke on the measures being undertaken to move operational guidance forward.

Following the morning keynote sessions, delegates were able to attend two of six parallel presentations covering a variety of topics. These included:

  • ‘Incident management and military support’ – David Hargreaves, CBRN Centre
  • ‘Shelter or Evacuate?: A tool to assess pollutant ingress into buildings from uncontained chemical incidents and fires’ – Nicholas Brooke, Public Health England.
  • A summary of the changes to the Emergency Response Guidebook – Kevin Miller, Tactical Hazmat.
  • The value of proportionate advice in chemical incident response – Bob Hark, Tactical Hazmat and Maria Stearn, NCEC.
  • GHS and its practical application to response – Rob Mitchell ,Tactical Hazmat and Chris Sowden, NCEC.
  • A case study about an oxygen tanker incident – Chris Dooley of Avon and Somerset Constabulary (this was the most popular morning session)
In the afternoon, delegates were able to attend two of five interactive workshop sessions. These covered hazard categorisation (field chemistry); emergency response training and operations involving radiation; air monitoring; initial operational response; and our most highly rated session of the entire event, a cyanide case study presented by Mark Walchester of Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service and John Overend of Staffordshire Constabulary.

Dinner followed with a quiz hosted by NCEC practice director, Jon Gibbard, which was well received by all. 


Day two started with a series of parallel presentations enabling delegates to see three of the following five presentations on offer:

  • Batteries and fuel cells in HAZMAT incidents – Tom Baker, NCEC.
  • 'Carbon dioxide: A green killer?' – Jetty Middelkoop, Brandweer Amsterdam-Amstelland.
  • Ammonium nitrate fertilisers involved in a fire – Hash Navsaria, Yarak UK Limited.
  • ‘Breaking the badness’ (IDL, regs,suicides) – Kevin Miller, Tactical Hazmat.
  • Decontamination: London’s experience and National Operational Guidance – Peter Gustafson, London Fire Brigade.

We will soon be making some of these available on a pay-per-view basis via our website along with other selected presentations from the event.

On the afternoon of day two, and to close the event, an interactive group scenario was presented by NCEC’s Tom Baker and Chris Lewis. This provided an excellent opportunity for discussion and sharing best practice. The scenario was well received with the interactive element being highlighted a number of times as a major benefit.

'This is the premier event of the year for Hazmat professionals.'  'An excellent opportunity to network & update on all things hazmat.' 'The venue was excellent and there was a wide subject matter with plenty of choice for the most fussy Hazmat Officer!'   'Essential to widen your professional understanding of Hazmat response.'

Next year’s Hazmat event will take place on 24 and 25 May 2017 – book your place now.



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Upcoming webinar: 'Managing safety and sustainability in the chemical supply chain' 


Chemical safety management goes well beyond just compliance. Risk management, corporate social responsibility and sustainability are also key in enabling a coherent chemical safety management strategy.

In this webinar, taking place 28/07/2016, our experts will: 

  • Demonstrate how good leadership in chemical safety can form a part of a coherent sustainability strategy so that organisations can better manage risk and create stakeholder value.
  • Give practical examples and insight into good and bad practice in chemical safety management so that organisations understand why they should seek to optimise their chemical safety performance.
  • Provide some practical tools and techniques organisations can use to help improve supply chain safety so that they can measure their supply chain chemical safety performance and more importantly identify areas for improvement.

To register for this webinar, please click here.

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White paper: The cost of inaction 



Loss of life or serious injury. Environmental damage. Irreparable harm to commercial reputation. Product safety managers know that the price of a chemical incident goes far beyond financial cost. But in today’s dynamic chemical industry, implementing a comprehensive programme of risk mitigation, crisis management and regulatory compliance is a complex task. Here, the UK’s National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC) provides a step-by-step framework to developing a competitive, compliant and commercially responsible chemical safety strategy across a product’s supply chain.

In this white paper, NCEC's Head of Emergency Response, Dan Haggarty, reviews the contemporary challenges facing chemical companies.

Read more



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Emergency Response Guidebook 2016 now available 


Developed jointly by Transport Canada (TC), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Secretariat of Transport and Communications of Mexico (SCT) and with the collaboration of CIQUIME (Centro de Informaciòn Quìmica para Emergencias) of Argentina, the 2016 Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG2016) assists emergency services personnel in making initial decisions upon arriving at the scene of a transportation incident involving dangerous goods.

For more information, click here.



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Questions about NCEC

Would you like more information about NCEC?

Email: ncec@ricardo.com or Tel: +44 (0) 1235 753654

NCEC was recently contacted by Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, who were at the disused Dorchester Prison. A container of test tubes had been discovered by archaeologists during site excavation. These tubes were marked “Home Office” and with the names of a number of chemical weapons: Mustard Gas, B.B.C., D.M. and Lewisite. A bomb disposal team were en-route but the Fire Service wanted more advice.


NCEC’s responder explained that the mystery package was an Air Raid Precautions simulant kit from WWII, a surprisingly common find. These kits would have been issued to Air Raid Precautions (ARP) personnel or HM Forces to help them recognise and identify chemical warfare agents, should an attack occur. Some of these kits contain safe gases that simulate the appearance and odour of the chemical weapons, but others can contain the real thing. Our responder was able to discuss the individual hazards of each chemical with the FRS and explain that as long as the package and test tubes remained intact they would unlikely pose a risk to health.


The cause of chemical incidents can be either current or historical, but access to chemical knowledge from experienced NCEC responders can help make sense of many potentially dangerous situations, no matter how ancient.