Much has been done in the UK both to help prevent industrial accidents and to minimise their effects, but they can still occur. Industrial accidents can take a wide variety of forms and consequently their impacts can vary considerably both in scale and nature. In most cases they will have no or very limited impact beyond the immediate vicinity and can be dealt with locally, although it is possible for there to be more significant consequences.
Fire can be a risk either in its own right or because of the damage that it can cause. In December 2005, the largest peacetime fire in Europe occurred at the Buncefield Oil Storage Terminal in Hemel Hempstead. There were no deaths but a number of injuries. In the short term, the surrounding area was evacuated. Some businesses in the immediate vicinity as well as the site itself experienced much longer-term disruption to operations.
Contamination can take many forms. In 2005, over 650 products were taken off UK supermarket shelves due to concerns about the contamination of food products with Sudan 1, a colouring agent banned in many countries, but still used in some parts of the global food industry.
Within Harrogate district we have one top tier Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulated site and several lower tier sites. These establishments have specific on-site and off-site plans.
The effects of a major Industrial Technical Failure to key infrastructure such as electricity, gas, water or telephony can also have a major impact on our communities. While the utilities providers have robust plans in place, we have also developed response arrangements in conjunction with partners to mitigate against these risks.