Operation Alert was organised by Govan Mbeki municipality Community Awareness and Emergency Response (CAER) members, including Sasol Poly Olefins Secunda Operations, Sasol Synfuels, local emergency and support services, police, ER 24, Secunda FM 97.6 radio, and other community sheq stakeholders.
The scenario set up for the community exercise included ‘a petrol road tanker that collided with a cargo truck transporting sulphur, whose breaks failed at a traffic light intersection. The collision resulted in two stationary vehicles being hit, a petrol spill, fire and the release of toxic sulphur dioxide’, according to the fictitious but realistic exercise brief.
CAER reports that parties that participated in the simulation exercise, performed their various tasks in a professional manner and used the opportunity to learn and identify specific areas of improvement.
Emergency response quality relies on prior planning, general public awareness, setup, surprise execution, and monitoring of emergency drills.
Govan Mbeki Community Awareness and Emergency Response Team (CAER) hosted a simulated emergency exercise in Bethal three years ago, to test effectiveness and response of various emergency services, as well as liaison between affected parties and the public.
This also demonstrated readiness for handling emergencies in the Govan Mbeki area. The objective of the CAER initiative is to ensure that key role players, municipality, Sasol, Transnet and the community are prepared to take the correct action should hazardous chemicals emergency incidents occur.
One of the tools used to ensure that this philosophy becomes a reality is to simulate a hazardous chemical emergency exercise as a hands-on training session. The exercise was performed under controlled conditions in conjunction with the emergency management service teams that would normally respond to hazardous material incidents.
Hannes Du Toit, Convener of the CAER committee said their vision is “to facilitate proactive emergency management to the benefit of the municipal area, to ensure that the community and relevant emergency and support service providers are prepared and informed on how to react should a major emergency occur. We plan to host similar emergency exercises every three years”.
Lucas Mahlangu, Govan Mbeki municipal communication official said that several emergency and support service providers such as the local traffic department, police services, and emergency medical services participated in simulated emergency exercises.
Due to the extent of the exercise, small sections of streets or roads could be partially closed during exercises. CAER assures the community that there was no environmental impact or damage caused, as a result of the exercise.
Explosion and fire at Secunda
At least one person was injured when an explosion caused a fire at a Sasol synfuel plant in Secunda last year. The building had to be evacuated after the blast. One person sustained a fractured knee.
Sasol said the blast occurred at a gasification plant on the west side of the Secunda plant. Emergency services were immediately dispatched and the situation was brought under control. The blast had had no effect on the surrounding community.
Sasol shares waste info
Sasol Solvents at Secunda won the Responsible Care (RC) Award 2011. The site produces a range of solvents with a production capacity of 1.1-million tonnes and has 510 employees.
The Sasol Sasolburg Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) exhibition was hosted in November 2011. Stakeholders, including employees and the public were invited to learn and to offer interactive feedback on Sasol’s SHE performance in the financial year of July to June 2011.
Questions from the public focused on industrial and domestic waste management and waste recycling at home, reports Henna Oosthuizen of Sasol.
PHOTO; Govan Mbeki Community Awareness and Emergency Response Team (CAER) hosted a simulated emergency exercise in Bethal some years ago, and a Secunda CAER simulated incident in November 2011. CAER information days are hosted regularly in communities surrounding major Sasol sites, testing co-ordination among emergency response services and the public.