Certain industrial activities involving dangerous substances have the potential to cause accidents. Some of these accidents may cause serious injuries to people or damage to the environment both nearby, and further away from, the site of the accident.
History – Buncefield
Recent experience of this type of incident in the UK was at Hemel Hempstead with the Buncefield Oil Depot explosion in December 2004. The explosion measured 2.4 on the Richter scale, and caused the largest fire in Europe since the Second World War. 2,000 people were evacuated from their homes, and 370 businesses were affected, employing 16,500 people. 60 members of the public required medical aid and the accident caused major disruption to roads, fuel supplies, local businesses and the supply chain.
The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH) and their amendments 2005, are the enforcing regulations within the United Kingdom with the aim of preventing major accidents involving dangerous substances and limiting the consequences to people and the environment of any incidents that do occur. The regulations are enforced by the competent authority consisting of the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency. They are applicable to any organisation or site storing or handling large quantities dangerous substances eg gas, agrochemicals, oil or explosives
Some of the impacts of an industrial accident are:
- Endangerment of life.
- Damage to property and the environment.
- Damage to local environment.
Some of the consequences of an industrial accident are:
- Economic impacts through damage to local businesses.
- Long term restoration and recovery of the local area.
- Contamination of crops and agricultural land.