Under the Responsible Care programme, the chemical industry makes every effort to transport goods to and from its manufacturing sites and storage locations safely and in full accordance with relevant regulations and codes of practice. In the event of an incident, the chemical industry will provide information, practical help and, if necessary and possible, appropriate equipment to the competent emergency authorities in order to minimise any adverse effects.
ICE (Intervention in Chemical Transport Emergencies) is a co-operative programme, set up by the European chemical industry to achieve this goal. In each European country, it seeks to create a framework for providing assistance in an effective way:
- by making use of the emergency response schemes of individual chemical companies;
- by building on existing emergency response schemes - local, regional and product-related (chlorine, isocyanates, ethylene oxide, etc.);
- by co-operating with national authorities through the National Chemical Federation;
- by promoting mutual assistance within the chemical industry.
Each national ICE scheme applies only to distribution incidents (i.e. those that occur outside manufacturing sites) and is formalised in a protocol between the national chemical industry federation and the national competent authorities.
A voluntary membership
A national ICE scheme is a voluntary initiative, normally open to all manufacturers and distributors of chemical products. It is administrated by the national chemical industry federation which keeps a register of participating members. Up-to-date information on available assistance is communicated promptly to the national competent authorities.
Different levels of support by the chemical industry
Participation in a national emergency scheme is voluntary but requires a company's commitment to provide help in land-based distribution incidents on the request of the competent authorities. Depending on the capabilities and resources of a company, there are three levels of intervention:
Level 1: Remote product information and general advice by telephone, e-mail or fax.
Level 2: Advice from an expert at the scene of an incident.
Level 3: Assistance with personnel/equipment at the scene of an incident.
Such a commitment applies firstly to products manufactured by the company itself and is normally incorporated into the company's own transport emergency response scheme. The emergency services may also require advice or help if the product supplier is not known or cannot be contacted. In such cases, companies may offer assistance on the basis of a prior arrangement with the national ICE scheme. However, safeguarding their own site facilities takes priority over Level 2 and Level 3 intervention.
The ultimate responsibility for any intervention at the scene of the emergency remains with the competent emergency authorities.
The key document in the protocol between the competent national authorities and the chemical industry (represented by the national chemical federation) is the list of participating companies. This provides details of each participant such as address, telephone and fax number, range of products (hazardous products are identified by the four-digit UN number), time availability, intervention equipment and area of intervention (if limited). It normally includes a map, showing the location of the participating companies so that the competent authorities can contact the site nearest to the transport accident.
National ICE centre
The focal point of a national ICE scheme is the national ICE centre which the emergency authorities can call:
- when the supplier cannot be contacted;
- when an incident happens during international transport necessitating contact with national ICE centres in other countries;
- when mutual assistance needs to be mobilised within the national ICE scheme;
- when the product or the producing company cannot be readily identified.
When called by the authorities, the national ICE centre will provide, in the local language, initial telephone advice for the immediate control of the incident. It will promptly alert the producing company, obtain further information (possibly via other national ICE centres) or mobilise mutual assistance. To do this, the centre has at its disposal appropriate communication equipment, a library of reference books or databases and up to date lists of contacts within the chemical industry.
The centre is manned 24 hours a day by at least one person who, in addition to the local language(s), can also speak English to facilitate communication between the national ICE centres.
Sources of information
Safety data sheets (SDS) are the main source of information. Participating companies therefore ensure that SDS for their own products are accessible at all times at the locations identified as company contacts in the national ICE scheme.
To provide initial advice, the national ICE centres have a series of reference books or databases or may have access to a set of SDS.
Typical flow of response
The following chart illustrates the typical flow of response in transport emergencies. However, each country can adapt the operation of a national ICE scheme according to its own specific needs and practices already in place.
Companies which may be involved in giving assistance or advice relating to other manufacturers' products should notify their insurers specifically of this fact and obtain confirmation that their general public liability policy will provide cover for these activities.
National ICE Schemes
In order to provide competent assistance, responders in the national ICE centre or in a company must meet a number of minimum requirements, either by experience or by training. These have been agreed within the chemical industry and are described in a Cefic publication.
Download Cefic publication on National ICE Schemes
Download the ICE - Distibution Emergency Response Guidelines for use by the chemical industry