Nairobi, 7 June 2013 - Safe transport and storage of chemicals, emergency prevention, preparedness as well as responses to chemical accidents was the focus of a joint project launched recently by the International Council of Chemicals Associations (ICCA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The issues were highlighted at the official launch of the joint project during a two-day workshop held in Nairobi earlier this month that aimed at improving chemical safety management in Kenya.
In 2010 alone, more than 2,300 incidents involving the transport of dangerous goods by companies were recorded worldwide under the Responsible Care initiative; a global project by the chemicals industry that brings together 31 chemicals associations to gather data for the purposes of improving health, safety and environmental performance.
Between 2000 and 2010, the tonnage of distribution of chemicals increased by 49 per cent according to the Responsible Care initiative, which includes data from 40 markets, including developing countries. Although progress has been achieved in reducing the number of accidents in the last decade, the issue remains of concern in many developing countries.
"Warehousing and cross-border road transportation of chemicals are among the key concerns in Africa related to chemicals management," said Desta Mebratu, Deputy Director of UNEP's Regional Office for Africa, "Frequently, the available infrastructure for emergency response is ineffective, and emergency prevention and preparedness skills are often limited. We hope by highlighting best practices in these workshops that we can help change that."
Kenya is a transit state for the East African Community and Central African states. The Port of Mombasa provides an entry point for chemicals destined for landlocked countries, including Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Likewise, the Port of Tema in Ghana serves the community of landlocked countries in West Africa. There have been frequent accidents involving trucks that carry chemicals and hydrocarbons, many occurring on Kenya's Mombasa - Malaba highway.
This has become an increasingly pressing problem, given current predictions that estimate a growth of 40 per cent in the African chemical industry by 2020, as indicated by the Global Chemicals Outlook report published by UNEP in 2012.
"UNEP and ICCA have joined forces to increase support for review of emergency preparedness plans at selected port areas," said Hubert Mandery, ICCA Council Secretary. By holding the workshops and emergency exercises, we aim to raise awareness of chemical safety of transport and storage and ultimately to strengthen sound chemicals management in developing countries."
Following the official project launch in Kenya this month, and in Ghana later in the year, the project aims at sharing best practices and identifying current emergency management plans in the Port of Mombasa in Kenya and Port of Tema in Ghana.
The initiative aims to gather more data to determine the most critical chemical hazards and the quantities of chemicals transported and stored in Kenya and Ghana in large volumes and to improve risk management. This will help to confirm the hazard hotspots for further risk assessment in the two countries.
The project outcomes will be gathered and shared with the region through a workshop and a publication. The activities aim at strengthening UNEP's and ICCA's knowledge of the key concerns related to chemicals transport and warehousing in the region, to guide the development of further activities in Africa.
Notes to Editors
About UNEP- ICCA Project
The UNEP-ICCA project will strive to raise awareness on chemical safety and emergency preparedness by supporting an expert review of the existing emergency preparedness plans at the selected port areas and through workshops and a multi-stakeholder emergency exercise. To better understand the situation of chemicals management in East and West Africa, a mapping of major stakeholders in the context of chemicals management and of major transport and warehousing related hazards complements the joint project activities.
The International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) is the worldwide voice of the chemical industry, a sector with 2010 turnover of more than 2,300 billion (excluding pharmaceuticals). More than 20 million people around the globe are employed directly or indirectly by the chemical industry. ICCA members account for more than 60 per cent of global chemical sales. ICCA focuses on key issues for the chemical industry such as the promotion and coordination of Responsible Care® and safe chemicals management through the Global Product Strategy. Priority advocacy issues include chemicals management, regulatory affairs, and international climate negotiations.