Welcome to the NCEC Newsletter and thank you for reading 

In this issue, we present the agenda of the Global Chemical Congress 2016, provide an overview of the workshops available to Hazmat 2016 delegates, give details of our upcoming Poison Centre webinar and evaluate the impact of the tragic Tianjin incident on organisations. We also provide a summary of our recent Crisis Readiness Assurance Tool webinar and give on overview of our trip to Asia where we presented on the regulatory challenges facing the chemical industry in the Far East.

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.

Daniel Haggarty of the National Chemical Emergency Centre



  Dan Haggarty
  Business Area Manager
  National Chemical Emergency Centre 

    
    E: ncec@ricardo.com
    T: +44 (0) 1235 753654

 

 

Interesting calls 


 
 

Bomb scare

 

 

 
 

NCEC was recently contacted by a Fire & Rescue Service crew from a disused prison. A container of test tubes had been discovered by archaeologists during site excavation. These tubes were marked 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.

 

emergency response

 
 

Mercury spillage

     
 

NCEC frequently receives calls involving domestic mercury spillages, typically small spills from broken thermometers. However, the Fire Services recently called for advice on an impressively large spillage. They estimated that approximately 300 ml of mercury had spilled from the pendulum of a grandfather clock and needed advice on clean-up.

Mercury was often used as the material for the pendulum in Victorian grandfather clocks to compensate for temperature changes and ensure the clock keeps time. Large clocks can contain substantial quantities of mercury, as was the case here. NCEC’s responder talked the Fire Service through the various options for cleaning a spill of this size. Mercury is difficult to remove, especially from soft furnishings. It can be chemically absorbed into zinc or sulfur, but this isn’t practical inside a home. NCEC’s responder provided the contact details of a number of specialist contractors, who could remove the mercury safely. This allowed the Fire Service to hand over the incident scene and return to their station, ready for the next emergency.

NCEC specialises in providing a bespoke response to every chemical emergency. What works in an industrial setting doesn’t always work inside a home and our responders are able to offer practical solutions to resolve an incident, regardless of the location. 

 


chemical clean up


 
 

Chemical fire

 

 

 
 

The Fire Services recently called NCEC for advice on a chemical fire. A pharmaceutical company had been using lithium aluminium hydride, a pyrophoric compound that reacts violently in contact with air or water, which is exactly what had happened. A fire had broken out and the site staff had attempted to fight the fire with a M28 dry powder extinguisher, but it had only accelerated the fire, forcing them to call the Fire Service.

NCEC’s responder explained to the Fire Service that M28 dry powder is not suitable for use on lithium, as the pharmaceutical company had discovered! It contains finely powdered sodium chloride, table salt, which has a very high melting point and would normally smother the fire, but reacts vigorously with lithium aluminium hydride. Unfortunately, lithium aluminium hydride reacts with water too, meaning the Fire Service did not have any means of extinguishing the fire. NCEC’s responder discussed the Fire Service’s options and recommended that they allow the fire to burn out in a controlled manner, preventing it from spreading to nearby buildings.

NCEC is frequently called for advice on chemical fires, some of which require very specific extinguishing methods. Regardless of how challenging the chemical is, NCEC will help responders to find the safest way of resolving the situation. 


Fighting chemical fire
 

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 The Tianjin Explosion 




 

Nearly 2 months have passed since the Tiajin incident 

In this blog we assess and evaluate what impact it has had and what companies need to do in order to learn from this tragic incident that had a significant impact not only locally, but on the supply chain of global companies.

What happened?

Around 11pm local time (3pm GMT), a fire was reported at the Ruihai Logistics site within the Binhai area of Tianjin Port. Firefighters attending the scene proceeded to control the fire using water sprays, however they were unaware of the dangerous goods on site. As a result, several chemical reactions took place causing an initial explosion in the area shortly before midnight local time (4pm GMT). Roughly 30 seconds later, a much larger secondary explosion occurred with a blast equivalent to 21 tons of TNT. There were over 100 fatalities with more than 600 injured and many (mostly firefighters) remain missing. The blast radius had caused significant damage to businesses and properties up to 5km from the epicenter. The cause of the incident remains under investigation. 

Read the full article on our blog

 

 

 

   

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Poison Centre Webinar  


 
 

 

 

NCEC is planning to run a webinar on the 20th January 2016.

In this webinar our regulatory experts will illustrate the differences in poison centre information submission across a variety of EU Member States, providing clear insight into how the regulations impact you. 

We will also look at the challenges facing industry when attempting to comply with local regulations for submission and how the EU is trying to address these problems.

Click here to register



   

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Hazmat 2016 workshops  


 
  Hazmat practitioners forum  
 

Hazmat 2016 will have five workshop & scenario sessions that will be run twice to give delegates the opportunity to attend two sessions. Each session will last for approximately 1 hour, 45 mins. Delegates will have the opportunity to register for specific sessions when booking their place. Priority will be given to delegates who have already registered.

 

Workshop A – Hazard Categorisation (Field Chemistry)

Run by: Tactical Hazmat

Max number: 24

Workshop B – Emergency Response Training and Operations Involving Radiation

Run by: Ciara High Risk

Max number: 16

Workshop C – In depth case study

Run by: Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and Staffordshire Constabulary

Max number: 24

Workshop D – Practical Vapour Detection

Run by: Tactical Hazmat

Max number: 24

Workshop E – Initial Operational Response

Run by: CBRN Centre

Max number: 30 

 

For more in-depth information on each workshop and to register for HAZMAT 2016, click here


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Global Chemical Congress 2016 


 
  Hazmat practitioners forum  
 

The Global Chemical Congress (GCC) is a two-day event that enables companies from around the world to share best practice and serves as a forum for leading industry experts to provide up-to-date information on key topics including chemical regulations, emergency response and crisis management.

The event will take place 20-21 April 2016.

An agenda can be viewed here

 

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Overcoming regulatory barriers: helping our clients do business in Asia  


 
 
 
 

In early November, the UK National Chemical Emergency Centre’s (NCEC) Rich Davey travelled to China and the Philippines to deliver presentations on the regulatory challenges facing the chemical industry in the Far East. Here, Rich reports back from his trip, exploring the impact of the changing regulatory landscape in Asia and presenting the value of tried and tested emergency response to support global supply chains.

Interesting times for regulation in China

It is an interesting time for the chemical industry in the Far East. Many countries have recently followed the EU in implementing individual ‘REACH-style’ actions to manage the manufacture and transport of chemicals. Increased regulation is a positive step towards improving safety and enhancing the competiveness of the global chemicals industry, however it also makes handling chemical goods across the region more complicated.

Added to this are the ongoing changes to auditing and assessment in the aftermath of August’s Tianjin explosion. To put this into context, reportedly over ten thousand companies in China have recently been asked to temporarily cease trading since August for a variety of safety and regulatory reasons.

Read the full article on our blog

 

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Using the Crisis Readiness Assurance Tool - Webinar  


 
 
 
 

We find that having a plan on the shelf can give organisations a false sense of assurance around crisis readiness. It is clearly not enough to have a plan: even if the plan is current and executable, real capability depends on competent personnel to operate it. Capability requires depth and must be sustainable over time: it requires leadership and a willingness to operate in a mode different to business as usual. 

When clients look to available standards - such as the British Standard for Crisis Management (BS11200, 2014), the Business Continuity Standard (BS / ISO 22301, 2012), or the Resilience Standard (BS 65000, 2014) - they may find an unhelpful volume of information that is difficult to apply in total to their industry. 

In the absence of clear mandatory requirements, clients may wish to adopt a risk-based approach; accepting the reality of budgets, time and competing priorities for implementation. For these reasons we have developed an assurance model for use with our clients. Our assurance model is applicable to real-world industry. It is based on the essential requirements of relevant standards, which we have simplified and de-conflicted. Most importantly, the assurance model delivers benefits. It allows clients to: 

  • Map capability - in terms of planning, structure, process, personnel, training, facilities and systems; 
  • Identify gaps in capability – against specific criteria rather than an arbitrary sense of discomfort; 
  • Plan to address gaps in capability – with prioritised actions and timelines; 
  • Support a business case for change – with the benefit of authoritative 3rd party input. 

This webinar demonstrates how the Crisis Readiness Assurance tool can be used to deliver the above.

View the webinar and download the presentation here

 

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Questions about NCEC

Would you like more information about NCEC?

Email: ncec@ricardo-aea.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.