Large industrial accidents are rare. The Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) requires a site operator to produce internal emergency plans for facilities where a dangerous substance is stored in quantities listed in Schedule 1 of the Regulations or if a specified dangerous substance could be produced in threshold quantities following the loss of control of an industrial chemical process.
The emergency plan must show how they will:
- minimise the effect of an incident
- protect people and the environment
- tell people if they’ve been affected
- clean up the site
The industries who fall under COMAH are some of the most closely regulated and safest in the country. It applies mainly to the chemical industry, but also to some storage activities, explosives and nuclear sites, and other industries where the criteria substances identified in the regulations are kept or used. In England the COMAH regulations are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency. Both of these conduct regular inspections of all facilities.
The regulations operate on two levels depending on the facility's status, which is divided into two categories, "upper-tier" and "lower-tier", determined by inventory. Our planning activity takes account of local COMAH sites.
West Midlands Fire Service are the responsible authority for regulation of these sites under COMAH legislation and produce and maintain off-site emergency plans for each top-tier site. If a major emergency occurred at any of these sites, the arrangements are detailed in the relevant off-site emergency plan. Residents and businesses within a specified area of a COMAH site (determined by the HSE) will have received emergency advice from the site operators.