The standards and regulations that apply to the transport, storage and handling of dangerous goods have developed over decades, driven by the expectations of governments and the public that those activities should be safe. But industry has also played its part, drawing up standards and procedures to protect its reputation and maintain its licence to operate.
Advances in those standards and regulations have often come in response to major accidents, many of which took place in the 1970s and 1980s, before safety standards received the strong focus that is applied to them today. That has certainly been the case in Europe, with the Flixborough and Seveso disasters leading to the current EU Seveso regime for managing high-hazard facilities, as well as the result of numerous oil tanker spills framing the EU’s approach to regulating oil shipping.
Another incident that led to new standards took place in Basle, Switzerland on 1 November 1986, when a massive fire broke out at the Sandoz chemical plant; it was not just the fire itself, but the pollution of a long stretch of the Rhine with toxic run-off that prompted action. In fact, the Sandoz plant was compliant with the regulations of the time and was seen as being well run; the incident merely highlighted the shortcomings of those regulations. In response, the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) drew up new guidelines for the warehousing of dangerous chemicals.
One outcome of that, as HCB reported in September 1990, was that manufacturers began to concentrate their inventory at strategic locations, where standards could be monitors and activities more tightly controlled. In turn, that led to the development of specialised third-party warehousing services, adept at meeting the strict expectations of regulators and of their chemical industry clients alike.
One example of that was the new ‘Jan Spaas’ warehouse developed by Pakhoed (which later merged with Van Ommeren to form Vopak) in the port of Antwerp. As HCB said at the time: “Pakhoed’s entry into the specialty chemicals sector testifies to the ‘service buying’ power of its major customers, who effectively impose changes in long-established distribution practices to ensure that their own particular needs are met.”
The September 1990 issue also continued with the theme of insurance, following on from the August issue (see opposite), with Nicholas Colton, liaison officer for the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) to IMO, taking a look at the proposed HNS Convention, intended to provide a liability and compensation scheme for the transport of dangerous goods by sea (and which remains to enter into force). John Hawkes of the London P&I Club discussed some of the difficulties facing ‘protection and indemnity’ insurers, which are normally arranged as mutual clubs, not least the fact that many claims may take years to come to court. He reported, for example, that the Amoco Cadiz case was still on the club’s books, though it had taken place 12 years before.
Elsewhere, we reported on an emergency drill that took place in New Jersey; firefighters were asked to deal with a ‘fire’ involving a tank truck with allyl alcohol. In their haste to put the fire out, they got too close. In the simulation, the tank exploded and would have killed them all. Reviewing a video afterwards, the men described the exercise as “a mixed success”.[post_title] => 30 Years Ago: September 1990 [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 30-years-ago-september-1990 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-08-06 12:28:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-08-06 11:28:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://hcblive.com/?p=25388 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )