Malcolm Philips – 8th January 2008
Our speaker worked for BP for 22 years, for Bechtel for 5 years, and then formed a Partnership devoted to Oil Industry Disaster planning. He is now semi-retired, only giving four lectures a year, usually of a week’s duration, to employees of the Oil Industry around the world. Recently most of his lectures have been given in the Near East.
Mal had originally obtained a degree in Instrumentation Control, and had been involved in designing Safety Systems, from this he moved into Disaster Planning.
His talk to the RCEA was based on his training lectures, but because of time constraints he could only cover a small part of this work. Buncefield, Flixborough, and Bhopal were mentioned in passing. However, the speaker wanted to concentrate on Oil Refinery Fires, and he used audio and video clips to vividly illustrate his points. The two specific fires Mal chose to discuss were the Number 11 tank fire at Pembroke, and a large oil refinery fire in Mexico. Fromthese events the speaker showed how an Oil Industry Disaster Plan Cycle could be developed:
- Identify the Hazard.
- Reduce the risks [in practice the risk is to be as small as reasonably possible.
- Establish Scenarios – Develop Strategies.
- Write Emergency Plan.
- Establish Command and Control Facilities.
- Ensure Adequate Emergency Response Facilities Exist.
The type of Hazards that should be considered at an Oil Refinery were:
- Fire and Explosion
- Loss of Containment.
- Toxic Gas.
- Structural Failure.
- Natural Disaster.
- Health – Food poisoning.
Putting together and writing an Emergency Response Plan could take up to two and a half years and should at some stage involve all of the employees on the site. It also required a considerable commitment of time and money on the part of Senior Management.
From the site management employees an Emergency Response Team of 5 to 7 people would be created, – it would deliberately exclude the Head of the Site [Site Manager] and the Head of HR. Their function would be to deal with off-site Senior Members of the Company and with the Media. They would be kept informed of the progress of the Incident by listening in to the electronic audio and video transmissions from the Dedicated Command Centre, and would also be available for consultation with the Leader.
The Emergency Response Team would have an E.R.T. Leader, who is given absolute authority and responsibility during the incident. The team itself would be made up of senior members of the organisation with specific knowledge of the site set-up. For instance there would be an appropriate member from HR, Operations, Engineering, Distribution and Marketing.
The E.R. Team would be working in a Dedicated Command Centre, which would be fitted with at least one PC per person, preloaded with all the relevant information for their speciality. These PC ‘stations’ would be set in U shaped pattern with clear line of sight of large screen TVs that would show the incident in real time. On the wall at the open end of the U would be a large Digital clock so they all worked to the same time reference.
The Dedicated Command Centre would be fitted with its own telephone lines, and where appropriate radio channels, for contact with the Local Authority, Fire and HospitalAmbulance Headquarters.
All communications, both in and out of the Dedicated Command Centre will be recorded permanently, both for the record, and for the obligatory de-briefing and review, after the incident has been completed.
The Emergency Response Team have to train and retrain, to refine, or to modify the Emergency Response Plan, where necessary, using simulated incidents. This means that if and, when a real incident occurs their actions and reactions will have been worked out in detail, and rehearsed so as to speedily minimise the impact of the incident on the Site, the Environment, their fellow employees, as well as the Image, and Viability of their Company.