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INTRODUCTION


Throughout the world people are becoming victims of industrial accidents when hazardous materials are released into the environment. Such incidents have the potential to cause ecological damage and are therefore likely to impact several countries. It is critical then that Government have the capability to prevent and respond to such events and minimize their harmful effects. In order to access the potential of a chemical accident, one needs to determine the source and the type of accident.


Such accidents can occur by:

  • Production of materials

  • Transport of materials

  • Technological system failures

  • Contamination of food or the environment by the use of chemicals, or improper waste management.

  • Explosion in a plant or storage facility handling toxic substances

  • Arson or sabotage

  • Other precipitating factors like lightning, flood and earthquake.

LIKELY IMPACT

PHYSICAL DAMAGE

  • Damage or destruction to structures and infra-structure

  • Transportation accidents may damage vehicles and other objects on impact

  • Industrial fires may reach high temperatures and affect large areas

ENVIRONMENTAL

  • The most dangerous elements are gases, vapors, volatile liquids and suspended articles in the air

  • Contamination of water supply, land, and animal life.

  • Ecological systems may be disrupted

CAUSALITIES

  • Many people may be killed or injured and require medical treatment

  • Health Effects

  • Direct inhalation of toxic substances in most common in the early phases. Afterwards, skin contaminations become more significant.

  • Dose of contamination is critical certain non-carcinogenic substances have threshold levels above which they are harmful to man

  • Better protection offered in closed places

FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO VULNERABILITY

  • Persons or structures, livestock etc. closest to the scene are most vulnerable, however, large scale releases of airborne pollutants may spread for hundreds of kilometers.

  • Lack of safety features

  • Lack of evacuation plans

  • Unawareness of potential danger

EMERGENCY ACTION


ATMOSPHERIC CONTAMINATION

  • Close all windows and doors and block off any other openings to the outdoors

  • Extinguish any naked flames

  • Reduce oxygen consumption by bringing physical activity to a minimum

  • Cover mouth and nose with dampened cloth

  • Seek First Aid

CONTAMINATION OF THE SKIN

  • Wash the affected parts to remove toxins

  • Use soap and water and wash body carefully

  • Remove all clothing while washing

  • Do not use chemical antidotes, as the heat generated from the neutralising reaction may make the lesions worse.

MITIGATION METHODS

  • Hazard mapping

  • Hazard material identification

  • Inspection of chemical plants and storage facilities

  • Monitoring toxic waste disposal procedures

  • Improve fore-fighting and emergency response capacities

  • Prepare and practice evacuation plans

  • Test warning systems

TYPICAL POST DISASTER NEEDS

  • Evacuation

  • Search and Rescue

  • Alternative sources of water

  • Clean-up

  • Monitoring environmental effects

 

Vacancies

CDEMA Annual Reports