November 2012

Welcome to the November issue of the NCEC newsletter.

We have big news about our ownership (see below) following the acquisition of AEA by Ricardo to form Ricardo-AEA. This change of ownership puts the group as a whole on a firm financial footing and is a positive move. Our new owners are also very pleased to acquire the NCEC as part of the deal. Not only is it ‘business as usual’ but, as we outline below, there is more investment in expanding the Emergency Responder team.

Also in this edition are the new dates of our free ‘taster’ webinar training sessions, more about Hazmat 2013 and our usual round up of interesting calls.

As 2012 draws to a close, may I take this opportunity to wish you a happy festive season, and a safe and successful 2013.
Happy reading!                         
Bill Atkinson, Knowledge Leader


Ricardo acquires AEA Europe, including the NCEC

On 8 November 2012, Ricardo announced that it had acquired the business, operating assets and employees engaged in the business of AEA Technology Plc (in administration) (‘AEA Europe’), for a total cash consideration of £18 million. This includes the activities of NCEC. No historic defined benefit pension liabilities or bank debts will transfer to Ricardo as part of the transaction.

To read the full story click here.                                                                                       

Enabling robust prevention, preparedness and response for chemical incidents

To enable robust prevention, preparedness and response prior to and during chemical incidents, a scientifically sound assessment of the risk to human health following acute chemical releases is critical. However, there is an on-going debate regarding the approaches for assessing the risks to human health during such scenarios. To contribute to the debate, Dr Sarah Bull, a Specialist Toxicology Consultant at the NCEC, participated in a research group that carried out a survey to identify:

• The most important chemical incident scenarios and any anticipated changes in chemical     incidents or their management.
• The information, tools and guidance used in different European countries to assess the potential health risks from acute chemical releases.
• The need for new information, tools, guidance and expertise to enable a robust and rapid   assessment of the risks to human health following acute chemical exposures.

Results from the survey showed that there is an obvious inconsistency in risk-assessment practices throughout Europe, with the use of different reference values for acute exposure contributing to these variable practices. Therefore, there is a generic need for a European consensus on the process and methodology to derive and use acute exposure reference values. Moreover, there is a general need for acute health risk assessment training on a local, national and European level, especially on the practical application of reference values for acute exposure, and their role in the assessment and communication of acute health risks. Lastly, although acutely toxic and irritating chemicals will remain serious risks, it was apparent that the development of plausible scenarios for potential emerging risks is also needed, such as new mixtures and chemicals (e.g. nanoparticles).

An article on the survey results entitled ‘Survey on methodologies in the risk assessment of chemical exposures in emergency response situations in Europe’ was published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials. Read the article here.

NCEC awarded new contracts

NCEC has recently been successful in bidding for the following projects either as a lead partner or junior partner in a consortium:

Client: European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) – Scientific services to support EFSA systematic reviews – chemical risk assessment
NCEC has won a place on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) framework to support its chemical-risk activities. The framework will incorporate a definition of a systematic review methodology to support food and feed safety risk assessments, and will support EFSA to perform systematic reviews or related literature reviews, specifically focusing on chemical risks.

This work will support the application of standardised and internationally recognised methods for retrieving, appraising and synthesising scientific evidence. It will also report and document the processes to enhance transparency and allow reproducibility of results.

This will provide EFSA with robust scientific data on which to base decisions surrounding food and feed safety, such as deriving levels of chemicals that may be present in food. It will also help to inform policy decisions (e.g. whether chemicals should be withdrawn from use due to concern regarding their toxicity on humans and the environment).

Client: Environment Agency – Environmental Risk Assessment Services (ERAS) framework

An NCEC-led consortium has won a place on the Environmental Risk Assessment Services (ERAS) framework, commissioned by the Environment Agency. The framework is intended to support the Environment Agency in its response to chemical policy and industry. The work involves producing environmental hazard and risk assessments of chemicals, both in general and for specific substances. It will also involve providing technical advice and critical review of assessments and reports produced by others to be carried out under the auspices of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation.

Client: Defra – Development of Category 4 Screening Levels for Assessment of Land Affected by Contamination
For more information, please click here.

NCEC expands its emergency response team

To support our customers’ growing need for chemical emergency response, we are delighted to announce that we have three new Emergency Responders in NCEC.

Ken Curness joined the team in August and is completing his training. James Smith and Simon Jones joined the team in November. Ken, James and Simon bring a range of skills to the team including over 50 years of chemical and environmental sector experience.

James joined NCEC as an Emergency Responder this month. He graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2010 with a masters degree in Chemistry. Prior to joining NCEC, James worked in a school in London supporting students with special needs. In his free time, James is an avid sportsman with a keen interest in ice hockey, achieving success as a player and a coach.


Simon graduated from Cardiff University in 2001 with a PhD in Organic Chemistry. Prior to joiningNCEC, he was a medicinal chemist for a small biopharmaceutical company working on the design and synthesis of ion channel modulating drugs. In a move away from the pharmaceutical industry, Simon recently returned to education and completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in Chemistry at Oxford University. Outside of work, Simon tries to keep himself fit – he enjoys running, playing squash in a local league and jumps at any opportunity to play the odd game of football.

Before joining NCEC, Ken was involved in the regulation of industrial sites and landfills under the Environmental Permitting Regulations and sites using radioactive materials. The bulk of his career has been in the chemicals and pharmaceutical industry. He started off in the laboratory, moved to production and ended up designing and implementing quality and environmental management systems, and validating processes for inspections. Ken studied for his first degree and PhD at Bath University.

Coming soon - new NCEC website

NCEC is developing a new website. This will provide a one-stop solution, making the customer journey effortless and using the ‘3-click rule’ to ensure that information required can be found easily and quickly. It will also have some novel interactive elements to keep you up to date with NCEC’s latest products and services, and events we shall be attending. We will also be using social media elements and blogging for knowledge sharing.

We shall keep you posted on developments and let you know when the new site is to be launched.


NCEC event attendance

Over the last two months, the NCEC team has been to interesting conferences in Orlando in the United States (National Safety Council Congress and Expo) and Turkey (Turkchem 2012).

We were invited to the events because of our worldwide reputation in chemical emergency response and our experience in running the UK’s National Chemical Emergency Centre for nearly 40 years. By attending and speaking at the events, NCEC aimed to promote best practice in emergency response.










Jon Gibbard, NCEC’s Emergency Response Project Director, discussed the reasons for having an emergency response service, how to establish a telephone response system and the key considerations when outsourcing this activity. This is particularly important in Turkey because a chemical emergency response service is not provided.

The NCEC team members also wanted to get a better understanding of different markets, legislation, and the challenges and barriers specific to these markets as well as getting feedback from customers and potential customers. In addition, the team engaged with potential partners who could support NCEC and its customers as it extends and develops its services.

We had some very interesting conversations, which helped us to understand the requirements for safety datasheet (SDS) authoring in Turkey and gather feedback on response provision and the drivers and barriers across the different companies and sectors we met. All of this helps our understanding, enabling us to improve our service offerings and make them suitable for specific sectors and markets.

We should like to pass on our thanks to all of those we met and spoke to.

To view the Emergency Response Best Practice Presentation please see the NSC ppt.


Fire at a recycling plant                                   
NCEC recently received a call from a fire and rescue service station commander who was dealing with a fire at a recycling plant. The plant dealt with recycled car parts and the materials involved in the fire were described as rubber, metal and contaminants.

Our Emergency Responder advised the caller that there was a potential for chemicals to be included in the contaminants such as antifreeze, power steering oils and lubricants. From the waste code provided by the caller, the Emergency Responder advised that the products in the fire were likely to be hazardous and suggested that crews used breathing apparatus. The Emergency Responder also provided advice on the hazards of the substances present in the waste and methods of decontamination.

Immediate access to specialist knowledge means that hazards can be quickly identified allowing the incident to be resolved thoroughly and efficiently.

Air-raid precautions kit from World War 2
NCEC recently received a call from a hazardous materials and environmental protection officer (HMEPO) regarding an incident where a member of the public had come across a small case containing labelled tubes in a warehouse. The tubes were labelled Mustard Gas, B.B.C., Phosgene and Lewisite. One of the tubes had an unsecured cap and the person that had discovered the tube had subsequently gone to hospital.

Our Emergency Responder had received a similar call earlier this year and advised the caller that from the description given, the item was likely to be a kit originating from World War 2. These kits would have been issued to air raid precautions (ARP) personnel or HM Forces to help them identify the gases should a release occur. The Emergency Responder provided advice on the hazards associated with each of the substances and risks presented to medical staff treating the casualty. The Emergency Responder also advised on decontaminating the casualty and the personal protective equipment required for the fire and rescue crews to enter the site. After the incident had been resolved, the Health Protection Agency confirmed that the item involved was an ARP stimulant test kit, as the Emergency Responder had suspected.

Immediate access to qualified chemists ensures that the most appropriate actions and suitable precautions are taken. Our Emergency Responders draw on their academic knowledge, industrial experience and specialist training at NCEC, as well as knowledge from previous incidents, to help protect people, property and the environment.

Explosion in a beer storage area
NCEC recently received a call from a fire officer who was attending an incident where an explosion had occurred in an above-ground beer storage area. The doors of the storage area on both sides had been blown off and a corner part of the wall had been blown out. The area contained a number of carbon dioxide cylinders. One of the cylinders was embedded in rubble and was venting gas. There did not appear to have been any fire or ignition-type explosion in the storage area and the fire officer wanted to ascertain the cause of the explosion.

Our Emergency Responder suggested possible causes of the explosion and explained that if no flammable vapours were present in the area then the likely cause was the rupture of a gas cylinder. After a further search of the storage area, the fire officer found a gas cylinder that had ruptured. The Emergency Responder provided information regarding the legislation for gas cylinders and the potential reason for the cylinder rupture.

Immediate access to expert advice means that incidents can be resolved quickly without compromising safety.



IFSEC & OSH Arabia
9–11 December 2012 – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia




IFSEC & OSH Arabia is taking place in December and is aimed at the security, fire and safety industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The event will be held alongside and in partnership with the 15th International Conference and Exhibition for Industrial Security, organised by the Higher Commission for Industrial Security.

NCEC will be taking an exhibition stand this year, and the event will be attended by Dan Haggarty and Giles Hobson.

Further information regarding this event can be found here.




NCEC is pleased to announce that Tactical Hazmat has joined the organising team and will be including its training expertise in the programme. Tactical Hazmat will be contributing significantly to the programme content including providing training on acetylene and asbestos procedures as laid out in the Fire Service’s 'Fire and Rescue Service Operational Guidance Hazardous Materials Incidents and Explosives Awareness.'

NCEC is also pleased to confirm details of the three scenario and workshop sessions. Delegates can choose between:

1. Scenario training – led by Tactical Hazmat. This session will be a table-top exercise looking at the consequences of an incident at a COMAH-regulated industrial site regarding environmental impact, off-site impact to infrastructure downwind (transport networks and residential) and tactical options for on-site response.

2. Radioactive material incident scenario – led by Nuvia Ltd. This will start with a short presentation and Q&A session to ensure delegates are familiar with the background knowledge required and will be followed by two exercises. The first will be a table-top exercise focusing on an incident involving a radioactive source. The second exercise will be practical ans aims to familiarise delegates with monitoring equipment, recording data and techniques for, and to practise, safely undressing potentially contaminated individuals.

3. Hazmat Master Class – led by Tactical Hazmat. This will be a hands-on hazard categorisation session using basic field chemistry techniques and observations. The session will encompass theory and practical elements, and will conclude with a demonstration using a mobile training facility.
Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Delegate places are available at the early-bird rate until the end of December, so book early to secure your place and preferred scenario session.

Hazmat 2013 is organised by NCEC and Tactical Hazmat, and is supported by Media Partner, Fire Times.

FPS Expo 2013
17–18 April 2013 – Harrogate International Centre, Yorkshire



NCEC will, again, be taking exhibition space at the oil industry's largest annual event at Harrogate International Centre.

A wide variety of senior professionals from across the UK, Europe and the USA will be visiting FPS EXPO 2013 to check out the latest industry innovations, network with colleagues, and learn about new legislation and other industry issues at the free workshops.

For further information, please click here.


Free ‘taster’ webinar training sessions – new dates for your diary
Chemical safety training is a requirement of many different pieces of legislation (e.g. European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR), Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) and the UK Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH).

At NCEC, we recognise the importance of having the right training. So, to help you evaluate our training courses and get a better understanding of how we may be able to help you, we are planning to host another set of our popular, free ‘taster’ webinar training sessions in January and February 2013.

These sessions, which last for up to 30 minutes, will give you the opportunity to watch and listen to an abridged version of our most popular presentations. Put these dates in your diary now so you don’t miss out:

Wednesday 23 January 2013

09:00: Chemical Spill Response
This course is ideal for those who are considering setting up, or already have, a spill response team in their workplace.

10:00:  First Aid for Chemical Exposures
This course combines first aid with chemical hazard awareness. It is aimed at those who work with chemicals or work in an environment where chemicals are handled.

11:00: Hazmat 1st Response
Designed to prepare you and your organisation for dealing with a chemical incident, and provides you with an understanding of what is expected of you.

Thursday 7 February 2013

13:30: Chemical Hazard Awareness
For those who work with chemicals, whether regularly or in an emergency, who want an understanding of how the chemicals might behave and the impact they can have on health.

14:30: First Aid for Chemical Exposures
A repeat of the 10:00 session on 23 January.

15:30: Chemical Spill Response
A repeat of the 09:00 session on 23 January.

To register your interest, please email indicating your preferred choice(s) of session. We will acknowledge your request, and further details and instructions will be sent to you in the new year.

For more details on all of our training courses, please visit the training pages.

All those who take part in the ‘taster’ webinar sessions will be eligible for a 15% reduction in the course fee for training courses that are due to be held before 31 May 2013.                                      

Forthcoming courses

Chemical Spill Response – 5 December 2012 and 7 March 2013
A one-day course that is ideal for those who are considering setting up or already have a spill response team in their workplace.
Cost: £265 +VAT

COSHH Assessment – 6 December 2012 and 25 April 2013

This presentation provides the necessary knowledge to ensure delegates understand the requirements of the COSHH legislation with regard to the assessment of the risks to health where hazardous substances are used.
Cost: £215 +VAT

Chemical Hazard Awareness – 21 February 2013 and 22 May 2013
A one-day course that provides an understanding of chemical hazards and the impact they can have on health during normal working conditions or in the event of an accident.
Cost:£265 +VAT

Hazmat 1st Response – 6 March 2013
A one-day course to prepare you and your organisation for dealing with a chemical incident. The course provides practical and up-to-date information on what is expected of you during a hazmat incident.
Cost: £235 + VAT

First Aid for Chemical Exposures – 24 April 2013

This one-day course combines first aid with chemical hazard awareness and is aimed at those who work with chemicals or work in an environment where chemicals are handled.
Cost: £265 +VAT                                                                       
To book a place, please contact us on +44 (0) 1235 75 3654 and / or email

[end of newsletter]



1. Ricardo acquires AEA Europe, including the NCEC

2. Enabling robust prevention, preparedness and response for chemical incidents

3. NCEC awarded new contracts

4. NCEC expands its emergency response team

5. Coming soon - new NCEC website

6. Out and About

- NCEC event attendance

7. Interesting calls

- Fire at a recycling plant

- Air-raid precautions kit from World War 2

- Explosion in a beer storage area

8. Forthcoming

- Events

- Training