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COMAH sites- what you need to know

To help prevent major public and environmental accidents, some premises are required by law to produce emergency plans to mitigate on site accidents.

The legislation is called the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 2015 and the premises it relates to are known as COMAH sites.

Sites affected are based on the nature of substances that the premises produce, use or store and there are two tiers of site, depending on the quantities of substances held.

‘Upper Tier’ sites must produce an emergency plan to mitigate on site accidents and also comply with various other health, safety and environmental regulations to ensure risks to people and the environment are very low.

Depending on the nature of the substances on the site, upper tier COMAH sites have a duty to provide information to the public who live or work within an area known as a ‘public information zone’. The size of these zones is designated by the Health and Safety Executive and the information provided to the public in these zones include the hazards on-site, risks to people and the environment and what action the public should take if they are notified that an accident has occurred.

There are eight upper tier COMAH sites in South Yorkshire:

BOC Ltd, Brinsworth, Rotherham, S60 5NT

Due to the legislation amendments in 2015, BOC Brinsworth is now classed as an Upper Tier COMAH Site. The main activity of this site is the production of gaseous oxygen through the method of air separation. The main hazard is an uncontrolled release of gas which results in fire and/or explosion. Those most at risk would be the people on site and in the immediate area.

The BOC Brinsworth site has been in existence for many years and the activities on site have not changed significantly. The Upper Tier status has been brought about by the change in legislation.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) received notification of BOC’s Upper Tier status in May 2017 and we now have until November 2017 to write and publish an External Emergency Plan for BOC Brinsworth. If you have any questions or comments about the creation of this plan please contact cpg@syfire.gov.uk.

AMG Super Alloys UK Ltd, Rotherham, S60 1DL

This is one of several companies that make up the Advanced Materials Division of the Advanced Metallurgical Group (AMG). Its core business is the production of aluminium master alloys and chromium metal of various grades. Various ferrous and non-ferrous alloys are also produced for the metals industry. The main hazard at the site would involve the release of chemicals into the nearby watercourses or sewerage system. This could occur through damaged packaging and flooding causing chemicals to be washed into the River Rother.

DHL Supply Chain, Tickhill, Doncaster, DN11 9HE

The site’s main activity is the storage and distribution of a wide range of healthcare and household care products for a number of different suppliers and customers. This includes the storage of large quantities of aerosols containing highly flammable LPG (liquefied petroleum gas). The main hazard at the site would be from a fire involving large quantities of packed aerosol stock. Those at most risk are considered to be persons within the site boundary and a small risk to the environment due to fire water runoff.

Outokumpu – ASR Rod Mill, Sheffield, S9 3XG

The main activity is the production of various grades of stainless steel rod and bar. To do this chemicals are used at various strengths and combinations within the production process. The main hazard at the site is loss of containment of chemicals that would pose an immediate risk to those at the site and chemicals entering watercourses or sewer systems.

Scottish Power, Hatfield, Doncaster, DN7 6TE

The site is composed of a natural gas field with three wellheads and a compressor/extractor facility which flows gas into the wells from the National Transmission System and extracts it from the wells using a high pressure gas compressor. The principal hazard arises from an uncontrolled gas release of a pipeline, which would probably result in a fire, due to friction with sides of the breach. Those at risk would be persons in the immediate area and the surrounding environment.

Victrex Manufacturing Ltd, Rotherham, S61 4QH

The main activities at this site are in the production of chemicals for further manufacturing and processing to make polymers which end up as components or applications across the automotive, aerospace, energy, medical and electronics industries. The main hazard at this site is toxic gas release which would dissipate off-site. Those at most risk are considered to be people within the site boundary and immediate off-site areas. The site currently provides information to those living or working within the site’s Public Information Zone.

Culina Ambient Ltd, Hellaby Estate, Rotherham, S66 8HN

This site provides third party logistics support to client companies. It stores mainly toiletries, hair and beauty products in the form of aerosols. The main hazard at the site would be a fire involving the large quantities of packed aerosol stock.   Those at most risk are considered to be persons and property within the site boundary and a small risk to those in the immediate area of the site. There may also be a risk to the environment due to fire water runoff.

DHL Supply Chain, Trax Park, Doncaster, DN4 5PD

This site provides third party logistics to Unilever. It stores toiletries, beauty products and aerosols. The main hazard at the site would be from a fire involving large quantities of packed aerosol stock. Those at most risk are considered to be persons and property within the site boundary and a small risk to those in the immediate area of the site. There may also be a risk to the environment due to fire water runoff.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) is the local authority responsible for COMAH sites in South Yorkshire, which means we have the responsibility for preparing, reviewing, testing and exercising external emergency plans for upper tier sites. These plans are designed to formulate a response and mitigate off-site impacts of a major accident.

As part of the reviewing process we must consult the public when preparing an external emergency plan. These plans contain the hazards of the site, the impacts a major accident may have on the public and environment and what response from the emergency services and other organisations will be required.

We have recently carried out exercises for three of the COMAH sites and are in the process of reviewing and updating the external emergency plans for these three sites.

  • Scottish Power – reviewed and published by the end of August 2017.
  • Victrex Manufacturing – reviewed and published by the end of September 2017.
  • Outokumpu – reviewed and published by the end of September 2017.

If you have any questions or comments about any of these plans please email cpg@syfire.gov.uk

This content was last updated on August 08th, 2017