ICPR – International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine

Prevention of accidents and security of industrial plants

Careful handling of hazardous substances which in the event of an accident may flow into the waters and the security of industrial plants is an utmost priority of ICPR work.

The warehouse fire at Sandoz/Schweizerhalle in 1986 and its consequences, among others that drinking water works along the Rhine had to stop water intake along 900 km – right down to the Netherlands - prompted the ICPR to inventory warehouses and production sites of hazardous substances in the Rhine watershed and to draft recommendations for the “Prevention of accidents and security of industrial plants“.

The recommendations concern the following fields:

Fire prevention concepts are to contribute to avoiding fire, to avoid the spreading of fire due to construction measures and to prevent consequential damage by retaining the fire-fighting agent.

Within licensing procedures for industrial installations which may potentially cause hazardous incidents the ICPR recommends close co-operation of authorities, applicants, citizens concerned and associations with a view to improving the prevention of accidents.

All containers to be filled with hazardous substances must be provided with overfill protection which autonomously interrupts the filling procedure or triggers audible alarm. Pipelines transporting substances hazardous to water must be leak-proof, durable and clearly marked.

Industrial plants must provide for sealing systems with collection basins and other devices preventing leakage in case of accidents.

Substances which may react with one another in a dangerous manner, e.g. provoking explosion, may not be stored together. Large amounts of burnable materials must be stored separately.

Split wastewater streams are recommended, separating industrial wastewater, rainwater and cooling water. Avoidance or reduction of wastewater must be strived for, e.g. by installing closed circuits.

Hazardous substances may not leak into waters during transhipment and filling the freight of ships, lorries or trains into warehouses or the other way around.

Within the surveillance of plants early recognition of leaking hazardous substances must be granted.

On-site alarm plans must include a precise list of rescue measures during accidents.

Did you know ...

that, in 1986, the toxic fire-fighting water from the Sandoz warehouse near Schweizerhalle caused a massive death of eel in the Rhine?