T17 2019/10/17 08:40:40.561849 GMT+0530
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Chemical Disaster

This topic contains the information related to Chemical Disaster and Hazardous Chemicals


Chemical, being at the core of modern industrial systems, has attained a very serious concern for disaster management within government, private sector and community at large. Chemical disasters may be traumatic in their impacts on human beings and have resulted in the casualties and also damages nature and property. The elements which are at highest risks due to chemical disaster primarily include the industrial plant, its employees & workers, hazardous chemicals vehicles, the residents of nearby settlements, adjacent buildings, occupants and surrounding community. Chemical disasters may arise in number of ways, such as:-

  1. Process and safety systems failures
    • Human errors
    • Technical errors
    • Management errors
  2. Induced effect of natural calamities
  3. Accidents during the transportation
  4. Hazardous waste processing/ disposal
  5. Terrorist attack/ unrest leading to sabotage

Status of Chemical Disaster Risk in India

India has witnessed the world’s worst chemical (industrial) disaster “Bhopal Gas Tragedy” in the year 1984. The Bhopal Gas tragedy was most devastating chemical accident in history, where over 2500 people died due to accidental release of toxic gas Methyl Iso Cyanate (MIC).

Such accidents are significant in terms of injuries, pain, suffering, loss of lives, damage to property and environment. India continued to witness a series of chemical accidents even after Bhopal had demonstrated the vulnerability of the country. Only in last decade, 130 significant chemical accidents reported in India, which resulted into 259 deaths and 563 number of major injured.

There are about 1861 Major Accident Hazard (MAH) units, spread across 298 districts and 25 states & 3 Union Territories, in all zones of country. Besides, there are thousands of registered and hazardous factories (below MAH criteria) and un-organized sectors dealing with numerous range of hazardous material posing serious and complex levels of disaster risks.

Safety initiatives taken in India to address chemical risk

The comprehensive legal/ institutional framework exists in our country. A number of regulations covering the safety in transportation, liability, insurance and compensations have been enacted.

Following are the relevant provisions on chemical disaster management, prevailing in country:-

  1. Explosives Act 1884                                      - Petroleum Act 1934
  2. Factories Act 1948                                        - Insecticides Act 1968
  3. Environment Protection Act 1986                 - Motor Vehicles Act 1988
  4. Public Liability Insurance Act 1991               - Disaster Management Act 2005

Government of India has further reinforced the legal framework on chemical safety and management of chemical accidents by enacting new rules such as MSIHC Rules, EPPR Rules, SMPV Rules, CMV Rules, Gas Cylinder Rules, Hazardous Waste Rules, Dock Workers Rules and by way of amendments to them.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of India had come out with very specific guidelines on Chemical Disaster Management. The guidelines have been prepared to provide the directions to ministries, departments and state authorities for the preparation of their detailed disaster management plans. These guidelines call for a proactive, participatory, multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach at various levels for chemical disaster preparedness and response. Further, NDMA has provided specific inputs to the GOM for avoidance of future chemical disasters in the country, along with suggested amendments on the existing framework. NDMA is also working on revamping of CIFs ( Chief Inspectorate of Factories) to strengthen chemical safety in India. In addition, MoEF and NDMA are in process of finalizing the National Action Plan on Chemical Industrial Disaster Management (NAP-CIDM), which will act as the roadmap for chemical disaster management in India.

Common Hazardous Chemicals

Guiding Instructions of 15 most commonly used hazardous chemicals

Do's and Dont's

Precautions to be taken during and after the Chemical (Industrial) Accidents

  • Do not panic, evacuate calmly and quickly perpendicular to wind direction through the designated escape route
  • Keep a wet handkerchief or piece of cloth/ sari on face during evacuation
  • Keep the sick, elderly, weak, handicapped and other people who are unable to evacuate inside house and close all the doors and windows tightly.
  • Do not consume the uncovered food/ water etc open to the air, drink only from bottle
  • Change into fresh clothing after reaching safe place/ shelter, and wish hands properly
  • Inform Fire & Emergency Services, Police and medical services from safe location by calling 101, 100 and 108 respectively.
  • Listen to PA (Public Addressal) System of the plant/ factory, local radio/ TV channels for advice from district administration/fire/health/police and other concerned authorities
  • Provide correct and accurate information to government official.
  • Inform others on occurrence of event at public gathering places (like school, shopping centre, theatre etc.).
  • Don’t pay attention to the rumours and don’t spread rumours.

General Precautions During Normal Time

  • Do not smoke, lit fire or spark in the identified hazardous area
  • Sensitize the community living near the industrial units and they should be more vigilant about the nature of industrial units and associated risks.
  • Keep the contact numbers of nearest hazardous industry, fire station, police station, control room, health services and district control room, for emergency use.
  • Avoid housing near the industries producing or processing the hazardous chemicals, if possible.
  • Participate in all the capacity building programmes organized by the government/ voluntary organizations / industrial units.
  • Take part in preparing disaster management plan for the community and identify safe shelter along with safe and easy access routes.
  • Prepare a family disaster management plan and explain it to all the family members.
  • Make the family/ neighbours aware of the basic characteristics of various poisonous/ hazardous chemicals and the first aid required to treat them.
  • Adequate number of personal protective equipments needs to be made available, to deal with emergency situation.
  • Prepare an emergency kit of items and essentials in the house, including medicines, documents and valuables.

Source: National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Government of India

Adyasha Das Oct 15, 2019 08:13 AM

Very informative!
Helped me in completing my assignment at the last moment.

Arnav S Tukol Jun 29, 2019 07:31 PM

i kept breaking my head trying to search for precautions for chemical and industrial disasters and this helped me a lot !!

Vj Jun 27, 2019 12:50 PM

Glad to have come across this article. Helped a lot to complete my project of CHEMICAL DISASTERS

Abhishek Jan 08, 2019 07:51 AM

Great information!
It helped me in completing my project

Jyothika.v. Dec 28, 2018 11:42 AM

it had helped me to do my project on the topic _ chemical disaster

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