HAZARD project stages first large scale live chemical accident exercise
25 Apr 2016

The HAZARD project aims at mitigating major accidents and emergencies in major seaports in the Baltic Sea Region. Ports, terminals and storage facilities, including those for dangerous goods, are often located close to residential areas, thus potentially exposing a large number of people to the consequences of accidents. HAZARD project deals with these concerns by bringing together logistics operators, rescue services and other relevant regional and local authorities.

Live exercises are a part of the project. They deal with i.e. leakage of hazardous materials, fires on passenger ships, oil spills or explosions of gases or chemicals. The experience and knowledge gained from the exercises are used for a number of improvements of safety codes, standards and risk analysis.

The first exercise of the project was held in the Port of Naantali, Finland, on 19 April 2016. It was arranged by the Southwest Finland Emergency Services together with the Port of Naantali. The exercise simulated a chemical accident during a very busy day in the port.

Scenario: The crew of a ship, which was docked in the port, detected suspicious movement close to the dangerous goods on board (monochloroacetic acid). After a closer look a member of the crew noticed an attempt to damage the cargo and managed to stop the attempt. The intruder escaped from the scene and no acid was released from the container. Shortly after, a pungent vinegary odour was detected in the port area. Close investigation revealed a leak of a clear fluid from the vehicle used to transport the hazardous substance. Close to the leak a person who appeared unconscious was lying on the ground.

The exercise aimed at testing the effectiveness of the port’s internal emergency plan and cooperation and communication between the rescue services and other authorities. It also looked at how the management of the rescue operation worked, as well as to train staff to manage major accident situations. It was also essential in the situation to confine the accident and limit damage to the surrounding environment.

The exercise went as planned with all the personnel carrying out their duties professionally.  Altogether, about 70 people from the Emergency Services, ports, port operators, the police, Finnish Border Guard and other regional authorities, as well as shipping and transport companies took part in the exercise. The exercise included Finnish participants, but the experience and learning will be used in planning the future transnational HAZARD exercises that take place together with other project partners.