Emergency Planning for Industrial Hazards by H.B.F. Gow, R.W. Kay

By H.B.F. Gow, R.W. Kay

Complaints of the ecu convention on Emergency making plans for commercial risks, held on the Congress Centre, Villa Ponti, Varese, Italy, 4-6 November 1987.

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These questions can perhaps best be answered by reference to the recent and well publicised Bhopal disaster. On 3 December 1984 a lethal cloud containing some 15 tonnes of methyl isocyanide (MIC) covered some 30 square miles of the Indian town of Bhopal. Some 2500 people died. Much evidence has been gathered about this accident—even if some aspects of it are still shrouded in mystery—and of course the human interest element has been widely covered by the world media. The technical details of the disaster have been extensively ventilated in the scientific press and at seminars, notably the World Conference on Chemical Accidents held in Rome in July 1987, but doubt remains on some aspects.

In addition to the promise by the Home Department of grant-aiding the staff costs for a modest amount of this civil emergency activity, the Local Government Act 1972 already empowered local authorities to incur expenditure to ‘avert’, ‘alleviate’ and ‘eradicate’ the effects of any emergency or disaster which could be foreseen as representing a danger to life or property within their jurisdictions. Local authorities were thus inter alia recommended to prepare general local emergency plans to deal with any emergency.

Fire/ explosion, release of toxic substances, etc. This means in particular that suitable substances for extinguishing fires, measuring equipment, first aid provisions, etc. must be readily available. When drawing up plans, use can be made of the data given in the safety analysis as prescribed by the ‘Regulation on major industrial accidents’ and of the description of possible areas of danger which can be expected in the event of an accident. For emergency plans to be effective the participation of people living in the vicinity who could be affected by an accident at the plant is essential.

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