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Industrial accidents

Thames Valley has a wide variety of industrial sites that involve the use or storage of hazardous materials as part of their daily business. This creates the potential for incidents to occur such as fire, explosion, and/ or the uncontrolled release of chemicals that may harm people and/ or the environment. These sites are governed by strict nuclear regulations (REPPIR). Others are regulated under Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (COMAH), designed to prevent incidents and limit consequences to the public and environment if they do occur.

How could this affect me?

Industrial incidents can result in harm to people, property, animals and the environment. Utilities or other essential services may be affected, and you might be asked to evacuate an area. One example of this type of incident in the UK was at Hemel Hempstead with the Buncefield Oil Depot explosion in 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. Sixty members of the public required medical aid and the accident caused major disruption to roads, fuel supplies, local businesses and the supply chain.

Get prepared
  • How to prepare
    • Know your area – be aware of nearby hazardous sites where you live or work. If you want to know more about industrial sites in Thames Valley please email your local authority
    • If you live close to a large chemical site you will be sent information [from who?] advising you of the actions to take in the event in an accident, please keep this in a handy place
    • Keep a stock of essential supplies – remember to check the use by dates of perishable items regularly
    • Prepare an emergency pack in case you are asked to evacuate
  • What to do during an industrial accident
    • Go inside, close all windows and doors and turn off any air conditioning or venting systems that might draw air in from outside. This is good advice for any large fire as exposure to smoke always poses some risk to health
    • Tune into local radio stations or follow official social media channels for updates
    • Be prepared to evacuate upon request if you live nearby the affected site
    • Do not enter property that is within a cordon until you are told it is safe to do so.
    • Follow all instructions given by the emergency services
  • What to do after an industrial accident
    • Take advice from the site operators and co-operate with organisations during any clean-up operation
    • If possible, volunteer time and resources to assist with the clean-up operation
    • Be aware that there may still be disruption on the roads in the affected area, so check before you travel
    • After the all-clear, doors and windows can be re-opened and ventilation restored