Following a recent tanker rollover, ACAPMA has been liaising with the EPA on a number of issues surrounding the post incident response, particularly around the reporting requirements and responsibilities. This has led to an open consultation on clear guidance around what is notifiable to the EPA, and whose responsibility it is to report it.
When there is an incident involving a dangerous goods tanker the implications for environmental protection are clear. In the heat of the moment however, particularly when responding to a rollover situation, it can be easy for the operator to assume that one of the many regulatory bodies onsite at the rollover being notified, counts as all of them being notified. Or that the incident response coordinator will provide notification to all regulatory bodies.
The reality is that it is the operators responsibility to notify the EPA NSW of a dangerous situation or incident involving a tanker, regardless of any other agencies that are notified or onsite.
What is important to note is that, according to the EPA NSW, a dangerous situation occurs when;
- There is a loss of containment (a leak), or
- There is likely to be a loss of containment or risk of loss of containment in the recovery phase (such as when righting a rolled over tanker, or decanting a damaged or stranded tanker), or
- There is damage to the product containment elements of the tanker, such as the shell, pipework or DG packaging, and importantly, if there is a suspicion of damage that can not be verified (for example the pipework can not be visualised due to a rollover).
A simple breakdown does not constitute a dangerous situation or incident, nor does an accident that does not involve damage or suspected damage to the product containing elements of the vehicle.
When there is a dangerous situation or incident it is the business’s responsibility to report the situation to the EPA NSW as soon as reasonably practicable. Unless there are complicating factors this means within 1 hour of management becoming aware of the situation. Notification should be made without delay to 131 555.
While these provisions and requirements are not new, the EPA NSW has recognised that there may be confusion over the roles and responsibilities and has produced Guidance communication on Notification of Dangerous Situations for DG Tankers, and has opened it for consultation. ACAPMA will be providing comment to this consultation process and will circulate the Guidance material to all members once finalised.