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Chemical accidents

Chemical accidents are unanticipated releases, explosions, fires and other harmful incidents involving toxic and hazardous materials. While chemical accidents may occur whenever toxic materials are stored, transported or used, the most severe accidents tend to involve major chemical manufacturing and storage facilities. Significant events include the Bhopal Disaster of 1984, which released a highly toxic gas at a Union Carbide pesticides facility and killed more than 2,000 people.

Additional recommended knowledge

Efforts to prevent accidents range from improved safety systems to fundamental changes in chemical use and manufacture, referred to as primary prevention or inherent safety.

In the U.S., concern about chemical accidents after the Bhopal disaster led to the passage of the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The EPCRA requires local emergency planning efforts throughout the country, including emergency notifications. The law also requires companies to make publicly available information about their storage of toxic chemicals. Based on such information, citizens can identify the vulnerable zones in which severe toxic releases could cause harm or death.

In the EU, incidents such as the Flixborough disaster and the Seveso disaster led to legislation such as the Seveso and Seveso II Directive which have been implemented across the EU in a number of ways. In the UK, the CIMAH regulations and the subsequent COMAH regulations placed requirements on sites with quantities of substances over certain thresholds to undertake rigorous risk assessments, emergency planning and provide safety reports to local authorities. [1] Many countries have organisations that can assist with substance risk assessment and emergency planning that is required by a wide variety of legislation, such as the National Chemical Emergency Centre in the UK.

In 1990, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board was established by Congress, though the CSB did not become operational until 1998. The Board's mission is to determine the root causes of chemical accidents and issue safety recommendations to prevent future accidents.

Internationally, the OECD Programme on Chemical Accidents is a forum where member and non-member countries share their information and experiences related to chemical accidents, find research and analysis on related issues and practices, and which develops recommendations on creating effective chemical accident preparedness, prevention, and response policies. To help countries improve their own chemical accident programs, the OECD publishes Guiding Principles for Chemical Accident Prevention, Preparedness and Response and Guidance on Safety Performance Indicators. It also organizes workshops on a number of issues related to preparing for, preventing, and responding to chemical accidents.[2]


  1. ^ The National Chemical Emergency Centre
  2. ^ “Chemical Accidents: About,” OECD Environment Directorate, 19 July 2007, .
  • OECD Programme on Chemical Accidents: Environment Directorate
    • Guiding Principles for Chemical Accident Prevention, Preparedness and Response
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health - Chemical Safety
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chemical_accidents". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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