Major Incident Planning and Support (MIP+S) Level 3

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Table top exercise - Petrochemical Facility

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Right, so now what we are going to have a look at is a chemical plant, a COMAH site, a place of extreme risk. But what I want to do is have a look at each one individually and highlight the issues with a major incident at this site. So it is a petrochemical plant, so highly explosive in the first point. But if we start off with the top left, pick out some points on there, folks, that you think you would pick up as high risk.

Certainly the amount of tankers that are there, or the holding containers.

So, volume of flammable products. So if that goes bang, it is gonna go bang in a big way.

Yeah, and especially it is quite high dense, highly dense. So they are all close together, so one could set off the rest of them.

Okay, is it going to affect anything else?

One thing that does stand out is that there does not seem to be any perimeters between the land that it is concealing.

No, might well be, but we cannot see them on that, can we? But what about the railway out here? This is a mainline railway, so if that goes bang and there is a train going past with 2000 people on it at the same time, it is highly likely it is going to damage them, isn't it?

Yeah. And it looks like there's a footpath on the other side as well, so that is obviously...


Well, it is a two-way street, really, in that, if something goes on in here it could affect the pathway, or something from the pathway could affect the tanks. So that is...

So it is a high-risk there. Golf course next to the public footpath as well. So again, people playing golf, people walking, competition day, something like that, there could be quite a few people there. Access and egress looks good, so you could get around the site. However, it is, as you said, coming down to a point and it is very condensed.

From the planning point of view, there is knowns and unknowns. The site will know what its population at risk is. If it's a COMAH site, as stated, it should know what its static, off-site population at risk, as part of the plan. But what you also got is this additional population at risk from the golf course, the railway line, the footpath, which are an unknown quantity. So it is actually quite hard to define the population at risk and how big the impact is going to be. So, even with very good planning, it could still have the potential to catch you out. So there is a lot of potential unknowns there.

Difficult also to put a perimeter around, because your perimeter, how far do you go, because the footpath, the railway line, has it got to be past them, and so on and so forth. It is quite a difficult site to actually manage, isn't it? If we look at the next one, we have now got where the actual fuels are brought in. So we have got gantries carrying pipes across water. So, again, high risk from potential terrorist attack, high risk from an accident with a ship, high risk of explosion, contamination to the sea, SSSI, triple SI, contamination to wildlife and water pollution. Again, we can clearly see the main line. We can see housing in the distance. So, plumes of smoke, contaminants, drift, chemical drifting across to them. Anything I've missed on that, folks? I notice there is a lot, what look like a lot of containers in here. We do not know what's in the containers. Again, heat and containers and chemicals and flammables.

I would assume it is linked to, on the next photo...

To the harbour.

The harbour, yeah, exactly. The international harbour, even. So there is a whole nother barrel of...

Yeah, potential risk coming in there.

Potential risks.

And anything going off on there may well affect this site. Again, massive rail lines on this side, fueling points for vehicles. They have got water for fire fighting, plus they have got the sea. So there is one advantage there.

So I think there's also, because of the type of site it is, where it is placed, this is... If there is an incident on this site, then it will escalate very quickly to the strategic level. So you will have a strategic coordinating group sitting, and you will have governmental over-watch very quickly. So, yeah, most incidents we deal with are at an operational level, a few are dealt with at the tactical level, very few are of such a magnitude that they escalate quickly to a strategic level. Strategic calls do not happen all that often.

Yeah. On to the final one we have got. Again, we have got a slightly different view, but we have also now on that one we can see offices. So we have got staff on site, we have got cars, we have got the main gate and the main entrances. So, again, potential terrorist risk. But also, coming into site, my understanding is the roads are... Well, very narrow track. They are coming over level crossings, over the railway. So to get vehicles on scene to start to do anything, we have got railways to potentially manage, level crossings to manage, trains to manage. There is an awful lot of big problems to solve even before we get to site.

So straight away you have got other agencies that you might not deal with on a regular basis. So, railway, British Transport Police. Plus, you will get the involvement of a railway incident officer, a RIO.

Port authorities, as well.

Port authorities, yeah. Well pointed out. So there will be a whole load of other agencies, including environmental, that will be involved. It will be a big tactical group, it will be a big strategic group.

So this is one really where a site would massively benefit for a really good handover to services on scene, with a really detailed pack of what the risks and potentials are and their plans.


Because without that we are dealing with something that is extremely dangerous blind. Crucial to have that pre-planning. And as it is...

A COMAH site.

A COMAH site, then that is law that they have that. But it should have been tried and testing by services as well, but all these things need to be factored in. It is a very complex site, it is a very dangerous site.

It will be interesting to see whether that is true at the moment. So because we have been going through a pandemic, exercises such as top-tier COMAH site exercises have probably not happened, which probably means it has not probably been exercised or reviewed for about two years as a starting point.

Mm-hmm. So, again, that can create some problems. Anything else on that anybody notices or would pick up?

Maybe just that there does not seem to be any like big cities or even towns nearby. So there might not be any emergency services on-hand quickly. So maybe what could be done to put something in quickly should something happen, before any extra help gets there.

Yeah, so training for staff and first aid training for staff and, yeah, control measures on scene before services get there.

To give them the time to get there.

Because of the response time.


There is also the obverse effect. Because it is a port, I think a port has its own medical capability, which you might be able to utilise.

Utilise. Yeah.

Something definitely to look into.