Staff Reporter

To tackle accidents involving hazardous materials

KOCHI: The district administration has allotted land to the Department of Factories and Boilers to set up a Chemical Emergency Centre, the first full-fledged system in the State to deal with chemical disasters. "This centre would also serve as a coordinating point for handling accidents such as the recent oil spill," said District Collector A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish. Even though the disaster management cell is streamlined to handle chemical disasters, this is not true about other accidents.

"There is a clear line of command for agencies involved in disaster control and rescue operations. The enforcement agencies and various industrial safety units will swing into action all by themselves when an accident occurs," said Mr. Hanish, who will be coordinating the work.

However, he admitted that all transport vehicles that handled hazardous material did not ensure safety mechanisms. Even though the Regional Transport Office insisted on having safety mechanism while issuing licences, these were removed from the vehicle after the test. "The RTO has been asked not to renew the licences of vehicles where these safety gadgets are missing," Mr. Hanish said.

On their part, the city police imparted training to 40 police personnel on handling accidents involving hazardous materials. "These men will reach the spot first and they need to identify the nature of material they are handling. After that, we can follow the guidelines from a list of experts that we have with us," said Manoj Abraham, City Police Commissioner.

The workshop was conducted by the State chapter of the National Safety Council at the training centre of Hindustan Organic Chemicals Ltd, Ambalamugal, last week.

The policemen have been taught to identify the material transported in the vehicle from the marks on display outside the tanker bodies.

"A handbook on chemical accidents and safety measures has been distributed to all police stations in the city limit," said Mr. Abraham, as part of sensitisation drive for the force.