Welcome to the November issue of the NCEC newsletter

Earlier this month, NCEC hosted an excellent Global Regulatory Challenges conference to coincide with its 40th anniversary celebrations.

I have been reflecting on the key themes of the day to add to this introduction. Firstly, the complexity of the global regulatory environment came across very clearly from Nathan Chen from REACH24H. It may seem a statement of the obvious, but the different regulatory regimes in major territories such as Japan and China, and those in less well-known areas (such as Chinese Taipei), are presenting the global chemicals industry with some major potential risks, but also opportunities.

A strong message from the conference was that the key to managing the global regulatory environment is having the knowledge about the nature and timing of regulatory changes. More broadly, the theme of high quality of information around regulation and chemical hazards came up several times during the event.

It was clear from the conference that regulators have a key role to play in this knowledge agenda, including their own responsibility to ensure they provide high-quality and timely information in general, and specific feedback about individual companies or substances. Petteri Mäkelä from the European Chemicals Agency indicated that the organisation sees itself as the ‘oil in the engine’ of the chemicals industry, and it was good to see a healthy and robust dialogue between regulators and business.

The supply chain was another key theme addressed in different ways by Joanne Lloyd from the Chemical Industries Association and Leo Rupert from Shell Chemicals. Mastering how to manage suppliers lies at the heart of a successful chemicals business, and the overall message from the speakers at the end of the day was that effective communication was the single top priority for all.

We have had great feedback on the conference, and we hope to make it an annual event, so that NCEC can play its part in facilitating knowledge sharing and networking to keep the lines of communication well and truly open. Tell us what you would like us to cover in the future! 

I hope you enjoy this month's newsletter that has our regular ‘Out and about’ feature, recent emergency calls, and details of forthcoming events and training courses.

Tim Curtis

Director: Operational Development


Email: ncec@ricardo-aea.com
Web: the-ncec.com

 Tel: +44 (0) 1235 75365

NCEC announces new partnership for chemical emergency response service in China

The NCEC has recently announced a new partnership agreement with China’s National Registration Centre for Chemicals (NRCC).

The new service will be of particular assistance to companies operating in China and needing to comply with the country’s regulations on the safe management of hazardous chemicals. These regulations have presented a significant challenge to manufacturers and importers of chemicals in China. In particular, those registering hazardous chemicals with the State Administration for Work Safety (SAWS) have begun to face a 'two strikes' policy, under which emergency response systems judged to be non-compliant have resulted in companies not being allowed to trade their products in China. This partnership agreement provides security to companies operating in China that they can be certain of compliance with Chinese regulations. As such, NCEC can now provide the only true global telephone emergency response service, all via one contract.

“We are pleased to have made an agreement with NCEC for joint operation of a global emergency telephone number service,” commented NRCC’s emergency response director Yuan Jiwu. “We have worked closely with NCEC since 2008 to share knowledge and expertise in the operation of a national emergency response centre and we see this partnership as a positive and natural step in our continuing co-operation”.

Until now, chemical companies operating in China have been required to either implement their own 24-hour expert advice line on a fixed domestic Chinese phone line, or to appoint an accredited agent such as NRCC-SAWS to provide this service on their behalf. The historic partnership between NCEC and NRCC now allows multinational chemical companies to access a professionally managed, expert monitored 24/7 emergency telephone number operated by NCEC.

“NCEC has been providing its global emergency response service in China for the last 15 years,” commented Dan Haggarty, NCEC development manager. “This latest development keeps us at the leading edge of global emergency response and allows chemical companies to manage and control their outsourced service via a single global contract. It provides access to the expertise of both NCEC and NRCC, avoiding costly duplication of effort in managing two service providers and guaranteeing compliance with global emergency response regulations.”

The risks of chemical companies continuing to operate in China without adequate compliance measures in place was further emphasised by Nathan Chen, director of NCEC’s service partner in China, REACH24H: “Chinese authorities are continuing to implement regulations for the safe management of chemicals and are continuing to develop their enforcement activities. The risk for chemical companies not complying with the regulation is continuing to grow. Not only can companies be prevented from trading in China, but they can suffer failure of registration or delayed shipments hindering normal business activities. The partnership between NCEC and NRCC is an ideal mechanism for companies seeking an affordable and easy route to compliance.”

The new partnership agreement with NRCC is a further demonstration of the international expansion of Ricardo-AEA, as well as of its highly successful NCEC operation.


Out and about

NCEC 40th anniversary

On the 13 November, the NCEC marked its 40th anniversary by hosting a celebratory Global Regulatory Challenges conference and reception at the Royal Society of Chemistry in London – nearly 100 people attended the event.

The day was full of great insights from industry leaders and the evening brought together our closest partners and clients, who have been integral to the success of NCEC through our 40-year journey. A big thank you to all who attended and made the event so special.

If you didn’t attend the event, you can still see what happened on the day because the presentations and videos are available on our website. Our guest speakers came from as far afield as China and presentations were given by:

  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) – the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) and its implementation.
  • The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) – compliance, the ECHA perspective.
  •  Chemical Industries Association – Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of Chemicals (REACH) challenges for industry.
  • 'REACH24H Consulting Group Ltd' – development of the regulatory landscape in Asia-Pacific.
  • Shell – product stewardship in practice.
  • NCEC – lessons learned in emergency response.

We would like to make this an annual event for our customers and stakeholders. To help us plan for future years, we would appreciate any further feedback from those who attended the event or, for those who were unable to come, send us an email and let us know what you think.

NCEC’s presentation discussed how the unique combination of our core beliefs, themes and values is central to our day-to-day operations. So, exactly what is it that makes NCEC tick? During the session, we identified three important themes – unique collaboration, knowledge leadership and continual improvement.

Unique collaboration

 For the last 40 years, we have been supported by the United Kingdom Government, the Department for Transport and the Chemical Industries Association. It was great to celebrate our achievements with our long-term customers and trade body partners at the anniversary event.

The key to operating a public and private sector service lies in mutual value. NCEC provides crucial support to the emergency services in the event of an incident, and our emergency service customers also benefit from our private sector work. For example, our database of over 3 million safety data sheets (SDSs) is not only crucial when providing advice to our private sector customers, but also extremely useful to our blue light customers if an incident involves one of the products for which we hold an SDS. On the flip side, our private customers value the technical expertise we gain through the challenging calls we get from the emergency services.

Knowledge leadership

Providing knowledge leadership to encourage organisational learning and development is at the heart of what we do at NCEC.

Through our Chemsafe training, we share knowledge with fire and rescue services on chemical hazards and responding to chemical incidents. An exciting recent development is our growing list of global intermediaries, allowing us to showcase our knowledge on changing regulatory environments across the globe – the REACH24H presentation is the first of many updates we aim to provide.

In the last year, we have welcomed a record number of customers and experts to the NCEC. It is great to see customers taking the time to train our Emergency Responders on their products and fire service personnel providing insight on topics such as fireworks, acetylene cylinders and homemade explosives. This all helps us to provide an enhanced service to our customers.

Continual improvement

If we don’t innovate and improve, we won’t be able to provide an excellent service to our customers. We have made some substantial investments in the last year alone. For example, our multilingual service is now better than ever due to investment in telephone software and through improved partnerships in our translation provision. We are also pleased to be developing other services and have exciting new developments in Chemdata®, launching an iOS® version in January and an Arabic language version in December.

40 years has brought considerable change in the marketplace for chemical emergency response, but the NCEC has stayed true to its roots as a national centre. Our team’s dedication and hard work, alongside our culture of knowledge leadership and continual improvement ensures the quality of our response 24/7.

 Watch a video from our 40th anniversary celebration.


NCEC in action

Proposed changes to COSHH Regulations and how they affect you

With our ongoing commitment to keep up to date with changes in legislation, we thought it prudent to provide details of the consultation that has recently come to an end regarding amendments to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has suggested making the following changes:


  • Making the text clearer so that organisations understand their responsibility with regards to COSHH.
  • Making amendments so the classification European Regulation on, labelling and packaging (CLP) is referenced with regards to classification of hazardous products.
  • Moving the information on the principles of good control practice from an annex to the guidance for COSHH Regulation 7.
  • Clarifying COSHH Regulation 9, which deals with the examination and test of control measures.

To keep in line with the introduction of CLP, the revised regulation should be available by the end of June 2015, as this is the deadline for updating labels and SDS for mixtures. (substances should already be following CLP requirements for both labels and SDS).

The main effect this will have on an organisation’s operations is the need to understand the proposed changes and be prepared to apply them in COSHH assessments.

Probably the biggest proposed change is the inclusion of the CLP with regards to the classification of hazardous products. As the CLP can bring more products under the hazardous goods umbrella, the proposed addition would also bring them into scope of the COSHH regulations. Therefore, it will be worthwhile for organisations to review their existing product portfolio against the CLP so that they can understand the impact of the COSHH ammendments.

In light of the proposed changes, if you are unsure or would like guidance regarding your products and their relation to the CLP and COSHH requirements, we offer COSHH consultancy services, which we will be happy to tailor to your requirements. Please contact us if you require further information.


Interesting calls  

Leaking roof at metal recycling plant

Water from a leaking roof at a metal recycling plant had found its way into some drums that contained magnesium offcuts. The affected drums were gassing off and the caller was concerned about the contents of the fumes and whether there was a fire risk from the metal.

Our Emergency Responder advised that the fumes coming from the drums could contain hydrogen, metal fumes, residues from any coatings inside the drum and steam. The caller was also warned that the reaction between the metal and water would produce flammable hydrogen and was provided with auto-ignition temperatures for hydrogen and magnesium. Our Emergency Responder provided the caller with details of hazardous waste contractors that could help make the site safe.

Our Emergency Responders will provide advice to not only assist with the initial incident, but will also advise on further actions required to safely close an incident.

Container falls from vehicle and leaks contents on road

NCEC recently received a call from a fire officer who was dealing with an incident where the contents from a drum had leaked across a road. It was thought the drum had fallen from a vehicle and the spill was approximately 200 litres. The Fire Service detection, identification and monitoring (DIM) team had identified the leaking substance as diisobutyl phthalate.

Our Emergency Responder advised the caller that the spilt material could be absorbed using an inert absorbent and the spent absorbent collected into suitable containers for disposal. The Emergency Responder confirmed that suitable personal protective equipment for the crews carrying out the clean-up would be breathing apparatus, gloves, boots and fire kit. The caller was made aware of the hazards of the substance and further precautions that could be taken to protect people and the environment.

Immediate access to qualified and experienced chemists ensures that incidents are dealt with efficiently and safely, while protecting the Emergency Services, the public and the environment.

LPG leak at a petrol station

NCEC recently received a call regarding a car that was leaking liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at a petrol station. The fire service had pushed the car away from the pumps and confirmed that the LPG was leaking at a slow rate. The caller was using gas monitoring equipment and had established that the gas concentration in the area around the tank was at 30% of the lower explosive limit.

Our Emergency Responder gave the caller advice on the hazards of LPG and discussed options for dealing with the leaking tank. The Emergency Responder also suggested that other agencies be informed of the leak as it was likely to continue for some time and provided the caller with the contact details for the appropriate agencies.

Our Emergency Responders draw on their in-depth chemical knowledge and experience to enable callers to consider all of the factors involved in an incident.




Hazmat 2014

30 April and 1 May 2014 at Eastwood Hall, Nottingham





We are pleased to announce details of the workshop/scenario sessions for Hazmat 2014. We will be running four sessions on the first day. Each will be repeated, giving delegates the opportunity to attend two of the four sessions. Delegates who have already registered for Hazmat 2014 have first choice of which sessions they would like to attend. An updated booking form is now available on our website giving new delegates the ability to select the sessions they would prefer to attend. Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Session 1 – Forensics in hazmats

Neil Measures from the National Crime Agency will show delegates how to take into consideration the preservation of evidence at a crime scene involving hazmat.

Session 2 – Practical substance identification

Rob Mitchell from Tactical Hazmat will lead a practical session looking at detection, identification and monitoring (DIM) equipment, and how it is used in a typical powder/liquid scenario. The session requires participants to form teams and there will be a prize for the team that completes the scenario in the fastest time and with the most accurate results.

Session 3 – Illicit drug laboratories (IDL)

Back by popular demand. Kevin Miller from Tactical Hazmat will lead this hands-on IDL session and he says “This is ‘Street Smart’ chemistry”. In a similar style to the workshop that Kevin presented at Hazmat 2013, this will be a hazard categorisation session using basic field chemistry techniques and observations, and will have theory and practical elements.

Session 4 – Scenario based on actual incident

Led by Bethan Davies from NCEC, and Graham Turner and Paul Molloy from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue, this session involves a table-top style exercise based on an actual chemical service suicide incident. Delegates will have the opportunity to work through the scenario, hear what actually happened and what lessons were learnt.

Further details of confirmed speakers and topics are now available on our website. Follow us on Twitter to receive updates on speaker and topic information, and reminders about registration deadlines. #Hazmat2014 is the official tag for the event.

Our co-organisers, Tactical Hazmat, is offering a scholarship place to one deserving candidate. Please follow the link to Tactical Hazmat’s website to find out more and how to apply.

Early-bird registration is open, so please download the booking form. Our ‘early-bird rate’ ends on 31 January 2014 so don’t delay, submit your booking form today and secure your place.

China Chemical Regulatory update

Webinar - 22nd January between 9am and 10am GMT

Presentation from NCEC’s partner REACH24H on chemical regulatory management in China followed by a Q&A session. The first in a series of global regulatory seminars from our intermediary partners. Following on from Nathan Chen’s presentation at our 40th anniversary and Global Regulatory conference in November. Please email the NCEC if you would like to register for this webinar.

China Chemical Regulatory update

Webinar - 22nd January between 9am and 10am GMT

Presentation from NCEC’s partner REACH24H on chemical regulatory management in China followed by a Q&A session. The first in a series of global regulatory seminars from our intermediary partners. Following on from Nathan Chen’s presentation at our 40th anniversary and Global Regulatory conference in November. Please email the NCEC if you would like to register for this webinar.



Chemical Hazard Awareness - Thursday 12 December

Chemical Hazard Awareness gives you the vital knowledge to make better risk assessments of the work you do and enables you to make the right choices about safe handling procedures, select the correct protective equipment, and make an effective and safe response to a spillage.

Cost: £295 + VAT

COSHH Assessment - Thursday 10 April 2014

The COSHH Assessment course, presented by Ricardo-AEA’s COSHH Competent Assessor, will provide the necessary knowledge to complete this task effectively. Including an overview of the regulations, identifying hazards, SDS interpretation, the effects of chemicals and the assessment process. Delegates are encouraged to bring their own assessments or details of workplace activities for discussion at the end of the day to help them consider the hazards, risks and likely exposures involved. 

Cost: £295 + VAT

To book a place or for more information, please contact us on +44 (0)1235 753248 and/or email ncec@ricardo-aea.com.

Bespoke training courses

We also offer bespoke training courses that can be delivered on your premises. This means we can tailor the content so that it relates directly to your organisation, thus meeting your specific needs and providing a cost-effective option.

The areas covered by our training are:                                                

Chemical incident response

Chemical hazard awareness and safety

Legislation compliance

  • COSHH Assessment - how to carry out a COSHH assessment.                                  

To discuss your training needs, or for more information, please contact us or call us on +44 (0)1235 753248. 


NCEC announces new partnership for chemical emergency response service in China

Out and about

NCEC 40th anniversary

NCEC in action

Proposed changes to COSHH Regulations and how they affect you

Interesting calls

Leaking roof at metal recycling plant
Container falls from vehicle and leaks contents on road
LPG leak at a petrol station