Guidance primarily aimed at local responders covering environmental issues that may arise during the Recovery Phase of an emergency in the UK
Guidance for staff of responder and other agencies working in the National Recovery Guidance (NRG) framework, in particular those involved in humanitarian aspects of emergency response and recovery work.
The guide explains who is responsible for creating and carrying out environmental emergency response plans in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It includes guidance about where to find contingency plans, contact details and details about funding.
The areas covered are:
- animal health and welfare, including animal disease outbreaks in the UK or overseas
- disposal of waste, including hazardous waste animal carcasses
- environmental pollution, including arrangements for decontamination
Animal health and welfare
Animal health and welfare issues have been identified as a result of:
- outbreaks of exotic animal diseases including foot and mouth disease
- flooding incidents
- issues arising from emergencies outside the UK such as Hurricane Katrina
- questions raised with animal health by local authorities and by government offices
Background and context
Exotic animal disease outbreaks (eg foot and mouth disease, avian influenza) are unique in that, for an outbreak in Great Britain, both national and local responses are led by the lead government department (Defra, Welsh and Scottish governments and their Animal Health agency) in close liaison with local responders such as local authorities, police forces and agencies such as the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and Environment Agency (EA). Details of the response are covered in the appropriate Exotic Animal Diseases contingency plans (see policy and guidance below).
In Northern Ireland, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) is the lead department, with the functions of the HPA and EA being carried out largely by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) and the Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) respectively.
Animal health: guidance for England
Defra’s revised Contingency Plan for Exotic Diseases of Animals was laid before Parliament on 15 December 2009. The plan covers arrangements for dealing with outbreaks and incidents of exotic disease in animals, including foot and mouth, avian flu and Newcastle disease.
The Contingency Plan has 2 parts:
- Overview of Emergency Preparedness (PDF, 1.5 MB) - providing details of how we prepare for an operational response
- The Framework Response Plan (PDF, 1.3 MB) - outlining systems, structures, roles and responsibilities implemented during an outbreak
This is complemented by those plans produced by devolved administrations.
Local authorities have a statutory duty (under the Animal Health Act to enforce movement restrictions in the event of an exotic animal disease outbreak. In Northern Ireland, this role falls to DARD, assisted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Defra also produces information and guidance on:
- disease control, including detailed information on different diseases such as Food and Mouth, Avian Influenza and Rabies
- restrictions on public rights of way and access to open country during an animal disease outbreak
- animal welfare legislation and the responsibilities of animal owners and keepers
- wildlife and pets, including bringing pets to the UK, wildlife crime and protection, and transport regulations
The duties of people responsible for animal welfare are covered in the Animal Welfare Act 2006
For information about the Rural Stress Action Plan, see the archived Defra guidance.
For disposal of carcass issues, see the ‘dealing with waste’ section below. In the event of an animal disease outbreak, there is a special exception or derogation to facilitate carcass disposal. The hierarchy is incineration, rendering and land-fill. In the event of a cull as part of an exotic disease control operation, Defra would fund disposal of animal carcasses.
In England, for issues relating to animals that occur as a result of other emergencies (ie flooding, chemical, radiological, biological, nuclear), contact should be made with the local Animal Health office. They will advise or escalate within Animal Health/Defra for advice as appropriate.
Animal health and welfare in the devolved territories
Animal health and welfare is a devolved responsibility in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Great Britain is considered to be a single epidemiological unit, separate from Ireland, so the study of and decisions relating to a disease outbreak do not automatically involve both units.
Wales and Scotland have their own published contingency plans for exotic diseases, which complement Defra’s.
Animal health and welfare, disease control policy and strategy is developed and determined collectively by the UK administrations.
The Welsh government seeks to secure lasting improvements in the agriculture sector by protecting and improving the quality of Welsh stock and controlling and eradicating diseases. The Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer works closely with Animal Health and Defra on animal health and welfare.
The contingency plan for exotic animal diseases provides the framework for the management and administrative structures that would be put into place in Wales in the event of a major outbreak of an infectious animal health disease. The plan contains the generic structures, systems, lines of communication and decision making processes, which are common to the control of the exotic diseases.
Animal health and welfare policy is fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and Scottish ministers are responsible for determining the policy response to any animal disease emergency situation.
As Great Britain is a single epidemiological unit, a co-ordinated disease control approach will be taken across Great Britain. The lead role in any disease outbreak in Scotland will be taken by the Scottish government.
Animal disease control and welfare is subject to a range of legislation. The Scottish government takes a strategic approach to encouraging health and welfare and ensuring appropriate contingency planning is in place to cope with potential disease outbreaks.
For useful contacts, see Scottish government website.
Animal Health and Welfare, Scottish Government Rural Directorate
- Tel: 0131 244 6015
- Fax: 0131 244 6616
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Northern Ireland, arrangements for responding to outbreaks of disease are detailed in the contingency plan.
This strategy document covers the period 2006-2011 and considers the health and welfare of both farm and domestic animals, including the all-island context of animal health and welfare as the island of Ireland is considered to be a single epidemiological unit.
Defra policy on restrictions on public rights of way and access to open country is based on a clear principle that that there should be a presumption in favour of maintaining public access during an animal disease outbreak. Northern Ireland (DARD) would also adopt this line where possible.
In Northern Ireland, DARD has a memorandum of understanding with a registered charity called Rural Support, which provides advice and a counselling service to farmers and other members of the rural community suffering stress associated with farming and/or the aftermath of an outbreak of epizootic disease.
You can use the Northern Ireland contact numbers list to find contacts for each of the Divisional Veterinary Offices.
Dealing with waste
Waste may arise from the recovery phase of many different emergencies, such as site clearance (following, for example, a terrorist attack), various CBRN exercise scenarios, flood events, marine oil spills, and outbreaks of animal and plant diseases such as the 2007 highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in Suffolk or foot and mouth disease.
Occasionally, waste itself may give rise to an emergency, such as the fire and flood at the Cleansing Service Group (CSG) hazardous waste facility, or as a result of a breakdown in the waste management service, such as the ‘winter of discontent’ strike leading to accumulated and uncollected municipal waste.
Waste may be hazardous or non-hazardous, either resulting directly from the emergency or as a result of remediation and clean up, eg decontamination washings, animal litter from poultry sheds. Contamination of agricultural land and the food chain can also lead to large quantities of waste requiring disposal.
Every effort should be made to minimise the amount of waste and to segregate the types of waste at the source of production. Waste should preferably be stored at the site of production and transported directly to the point of disposal whenever possible.
Waste: UK policy and guidance
Information on particular waste management issues is highlighted below. Further information on the waste management and recycling.
Waste should be managed in a way that does not cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health. It needs to be stored, treated, recovered or disposed of at an appropriately authorised site.
A householder’s domestic waste, which is dealt with within the boundary of their own property, is exempt from the need for a Waste Management License. Commercial and industrial waste is covered by the regulations.
Information on local waste sites can be found in the Waste Directory on the NetRegs website or by contacting the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506.
Guidance in England and Wales on applying for a Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permit, waste management licence or registering an exemption from the need for a licence can be found on the Environment Agency’s website.
Guidance on the PPC permitting, waste management licensing or exemption systems in Scotland can be found on the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s website
Duty of care
Everyone handling waste is subject to the Duty of Care provisions and anyone transporting waste on behalf of others is usually required to be registered as waste carriers. The extent to which these requirements might be relaxed (eg use of unregistered carriers or use of temporary unlicensed storage sites) in an emergency would be subject to agreement between the appropriate environmental regulator, that is Defra, the Welsh government or the Scottish Executive.
Immediate responsibility for clearing waste
Local authorities (LAs) have duties to keep public land clear of fly-tipped waste, but neither the LA or appropriate environmental regulator has a duty to clear waste from private land. In the event of an emergency however the appropriate environmental regulator or the LA has powers to enter land under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990, section 59(7) and clear any waste unlawfully deposited for the purposes of preventing pollution of land, water, or air, or harm to human health. The Act also empowers the authority to take other appropriate steps. You can read the EPA 1990 on the OPSI website.
Under the EPA 1990, section 59(8) the authority (LA or EA) is entitled to recover the costs of operations from any person who deposited or knowingly caused or permitted the deposit of the waste. In the case of an emergency, central government could elect to reimburse the authorities for any clearance costs. The Secretary of State or Welsh ministers also have general powers of direction so it could also elect the environmental regulator to act in certain circumstances.
Local authorities have duties to keep public land clear of fly-tipped waste. The roles and responsibilities for dealing with tackling illegal waste activities and fly-tipping are detailed in the Flytipping Protocol and Welsh Addendum.
Neither the LA or appropriate environmental regulator has a duty to clear waste from private land.
Subsequent transportation of waste
To transport controlled waste, a waste carrier must be registered, under the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989 and the Controlled Waste (Registration of Carriers and Seizure of Vehicles) Regulations 1991.
The carrier is responsible for ensuring that they are registered and the holder is responsible under the duty of care for ensuring that waste is transferred only to an authorised carrier.
The need for guidance on the safe disposal of contaminated waste was identified following the Alexander Litvinenko incident in 2006/07, which resulted in the generation of waste contaminated with a radiological substance.
Defra, working closely with the Environment Agency and in close consultation with other departments and the Local Government Association, has produced this Strategic National Guidance for the safe management of waste arising following a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) incident. The guidance is not meant to be prescriptive but it is hoped those responsible for planning and preparing for a CBRN incident will find it helpful.
Summary of the controls on hazardous waste:
In the absence of similar guidance in Scotland, please contact your local SEPA office for further information.
Premises that produce hazardous waste must be registered with the Environment Agency unless excluded by an exemption. Locations which are not premises (such as parts of the highway where a spillage has occurred or ambulances where waste has been produced whilst treating a patient) do not need to be registered. Guidance on registering as a hazardous waste producer is available on Environment Agency website.
With very few exceptions, a consignment note must be completed to accompany hazardous waste when it is moved from any premises. A consignment note is not required to move hazardous waste from locations that are not premises. Guidance on moving hazardous waste and consignment notes is available on Environment Agency website.
In England and Wales, the principal regulator for the hazardous waste controls is the EA, who can advise on technical issues relating to hazardous waste management. Defra and the Welsh government provide the legal framework for the controls. Defra leads on negotiations with other Member States and the Commission.
The Hazardous Waste (Wales) Regulations 2005 apply to Wales of which Part 9 relates to Emergencies and Grave Danger.
In Scotland, hazardous waste is referred to as special waste and SEPA is the principal regulator. Further guidance on the special waste regime in Scotland can be found on SEPA’s website:
Oily waste (marine spills)
Extremely large volumes of oily waste (a hazardous waste) can be generated following shoreline clean-up and recovery at sea from a large marine oil spill. The local authority is responsible for the management of waste from the shoreline. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is responsible for the management of waste from off-shore pollutions. The Environment Agency can provide advice on temporary storage arrangements without the need for a waste management licence. Temporary, intermediate and final waste storage sites should be identified in local authority oil spill contingency plans.
There are a variety of treatment and disposal options, depending on the type of oil and contaminated debris, but the availability of suitable permitted sites is limited. Further details of local contractors and disposal facilities can be obtained from the local authority and Environment Agency.
See the MCA marine pollution clean-up manual on the MCA website.
The MCA (with support from the Environment Agency, SEPA and EHS) has undertaken a project looking at the development of a protocol for the treatment and disposal of oily waste in the UK. The project looked at issues on the management and infrastructure which is in place to deal with oily waste resulting from a marine spill in the UK.
There are 4 outputs from this project, which you can download as follows:
This guidance has been prepared to help local authorities with the task of making plans and preparations for the handling, storage and disposal of the oily waste products that are generated during the clean-up of coastal oil spills
Clinical waste is defined in the Controlled Waste Regulations 1992. It means any waste which consists wholly or partly of:
- human or animal tissue
- blood or bodily fluids
- drugs or other pharmaceutical products
- swabs or dressings
- syringes, needles or other sharp instruments
which unless rendered safe may prove hazardous to any person coming into contact with it. Clinical waste also includes
- any other waste arising from medical, nursing, dental, veterinary, pharmaceutical or similar practice, investigation, treatment, care teaching or research, or the collection of blood for transfusion, being waste which may cause infection to any person coming into contact with it
Contact the Environment Agency’s National Customer Contact Centre for further guidance on disposal or recovery of clinical waste.
Where it is not possible to specify segregated hazardous waste, all waste must be considered hazardous until revised segregation is introduced.
These kinds of waste are defined in the List of Wastes Regulations 2005. There are separate regulations for England and Wales (Chapter 18s and 20).
Healthcare waste refers to any waste produced by, and as a consequence of, healthcare activities. For the purposes of this guidance, it also applies to offensive/ hygiene and infectious waste produced in the community from non-NHS healthcare sources.
Examples of healthcare waste include:
- infectious waste
- laboratory cultures
- anatomical waste
- sharps waste
- medicinal waste
- laboratory chemicals
Householders should contact their local authority (LA) to arrange for the collection of bulky items of which they wish to dispose.
Local authorities (LAs):
- have a duty to collect household waste and commercial waste if it is requested (but are entitled to charge for this service), except where the waste is so isolated or inaccessible that the cost of collection would be unreasonably high, and the local authority is satisfied that adequate arrangements for its disposal have been made by the holder of the waste
- are free to choose how they fulfil their waste collection duties including the frequency of the collections, the priority, degree of effort and resources required
- are entitled, but not required, to charge for collection of certain types of household waste, including bulky items (articles exceeding 25kg in weight or which cannot be fitted into the usual receptacle for household waste)
- are best placed to make decisions on the waste management strategy for their communities
More information on local authority activities can be found at:
As outlined above, LAs will collect bulky household waste. In addition to this disposal route, other routes exist for household items, particularly for furniture that has the potential to be reused. An example is the Furniture Re-use Network (FRN), a national body which supports, assists and develops charitable re-use organisations across the UK. It comprises of some 400 re-use organisations that will collect unwanted, reusable bulky household items. FRN members operate the largest fridge collection service in the UK, collecting over 300,000 fridges a year. Visit the FRN website for more information on its services.
In Scotland, the majority of furniture projects are run by the Community Recycling Network for Scotland (CRNS). There are currently around 60 furniture projects in operation, most of which exist to provide donated furniture at a low cost, or free, to a particular target group, usually to people on a low income. The projects range from ones that are run entirely by volunteers to projects that have over 20 employees and help thousands of people every year. See the CRNS website for more information.
Fridges and other electrical waste
Controls on ozone depleting substances (ODS) require the disposal of waste fridges and refrigeration equipment in an environmentally sound manner – removal of ODS (including CFCs and HCFCs) from refrigeration equipment before such appliances are scrapped. For further information on the treatment and disposal of fridges see the archived Defra web pages.
Disposal of electrical and electronic equipment must now follow legislation as set out in the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive. The WEEE Regulations affect everyone who uses, sells, treats or disposes of WEEE. WEEE is marked with a crossed out wheeled bin symbol, and includes TVs, fridges, washing machines and computers. Householders can:
- take old appliances to their local civic amenity site
- arrange for their local authority to collect the equipment (some local authorities provide a free collection service and others charge)
- arrange for an electrical retailer delivering new equipment to take away the old appliance
Further information is available for:
Businesses, schools, hospitals, and government agencies, when they dispose of their electrical waste, need to ensure that all separately collected WEEE is treated and recycled. Exemptions from waste management licensing are available for the storage of WEEE, repair/refurbishment of WEEE, and lamp crushing prior to recovery. Further information is available on Environment Agency website.
In the absence of similar guidance in Scotland, please contact your local SEPA office for further information on the WEEE directive regime in Scotland. In addition information can be obtained from the SEPA website.
The disposal of waste vehicles is governed by the End-of-life Vehicles (ELV) Regulations 2003 which require operators to hold a site licence if accepting vehicles which have not been depolluted and sets minimum technical standards for all sites that store or treat ELVs.
For guidance on the keeping and treatment of waste motor vehicles and conditions of site licences, see Part VII and Schedule 5 of the End-of-life Vehicles Regulations 2003 and the Welsh government website.
The guidance notes linked below, issued by Defra and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, describe procedures for the depollution of ELVs. The Guidance for Authorised Treatment. Facilities applies to ELV Directive vehicles, that is to say passenger vehicles with no more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat and goods vehicles with a mass not exceeding 3.5 tonnes.
For these vehicles, last owners can dispose of them at no cost once they are delivered into a vehicle manufacturer affiliated authorised treatment facility (ATF). Manufacturers are required to maintain a convenient network of such facilities
For larger vehicles, and in particular heavy goods vehicles, possible depollution methods are described in Depollution Guidance for End-of-Life Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.
There is a supplement to the current EA Fit and Proper person Guidance for Waste Management Licensing to cover the permitting of End-of-life vehicle authorised treatment facilities.
In Scotland, there are separate regulations on the authorisation of the keeping and treatment of waste motor vehicles called the End of Life Vehicles (Storage and Treatment) (Scotland) Regulations 2003. You can find further information on the ELV regime in Scotland on the SEPA website.
Disposal and collection of animal carcasses
For exotic animal disease outbreaks, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency assumes all responsibility for culling and disposal of affected animals.
In all other cases, responsibility for the disposal of carcasses rests with the animal’s keeper.
Following flooding incidents carcasses can end up in a variety of places including: fields, hedgerows, depressions, towns, roads, canals, rivers, sea, beaches etc
Where a carcass is deposited on private land, wherever possible the owner of the carcass should be identified and is responsible for the collection and disposal. If ownership cannot be proven then responsibility for disposal rests with the landowner. It can be difficult to identify who owns animals if swept away from farm/holding/home.
Where a carcass is deposited elsewhere, including public land or highways, and ownership of the carcass cannot be ascertained then the local authority is responsible for the disposal.
The Environment Agency will remove a carcass from a watercourse but only if there is a pollution or flood risk and the carcass owner or landowner cannot be identified. Local authorities (usually Environmental Health) have powers under the statutory nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to deal with ‘accumulations or deposits which are prejudicial to health or a nuisance’. Appropriate action can subsequently be taken against the owner of the carcass.
All such carcasses must be disposed of by rendering or incineration. Further details of local contractors and disposal facilities can be obtained from the local authority, EA and local Animal Health office. A list of approved premises is also available on the Defra website.
The Secretary of State and devolved ministers have powers under the Animal By-Product Regulations to approve a derogation permitting the on-farm burial of carcasses. This derogation may be applied locally, regionally or nationally and may be used to allow the disposal of fallen stock when movement restrictions are in place in addition to the disposal of carcasses from animals culled for disease control reasons. This derogation only applies for outbreaks of exotic animal disease and not for other types of emergency.
Further information can be found in the Welsh government’s Framework Response Plan for Exotic Animal Diseases.
A specific and important waste stream arising during flooding are waste sediments. You can store sediments for up to 3 months, pending characterisation of the waste and then recovery or disposal off site.
Sediments that are obviously contaminated will need to be tested for contaminants (such as heavy metals, oils and other potential toxic elements) prior to disposal. Any sediment identified as hazardous must go to a hazardous waste landfill or to a licensed treatment plant.
Uncontaminated sediments, for example from predominantly rural areas, may be suitable for reuse for agricultural or ecological benefit within the catchment that generated it. They may also be used to repair flood-affected areas or be spread back on to fields within the affected river catchment as soil. Anyone using it or spreading it needs to register this exempt activity with the Environment Agency (this is called a ‘paragraph 7A exemption’). If the sediment is being used within the catchment there will not be a charge for the registration.
Waste milk may arise following an animal disease outbreak or become contaminated following a pollution incident. Milk that is obviously contaminated will need to be tested for contaminants (such as heavy metals, radiation and other potential toxic elements) prior to disposal. From 30 October 2007, any liquid, hazardous or non hazardous, including milk will not be permitted to be disposed of in any landfill site
A ‘paragraph 47 exemption’ under the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994, allows uncontaminated milk to be used for the treatment of land used for agriculture if it results in benefit to agriculture or ecological improvement and provided certain conditions are met. Contact the Environment Agency for further details.
The Environment Agency in conjunction with Defra will provide direction on the potential risk proposed by land-spreading of milk contaminated by TB or any other disease. Milk should only be disposed of to sewer in consultation with the local water company.
Further guidance on the disposal of waste milk can be viewed on the Defra website.
Responders should take care to minimise the creation of solid and liquid radioactive wastes, and store and dispose of those wastes safely – preventing unnecessary discharges of radioactivity to the environment.
The environment agencies (Environment Agency in England and Wales; SEPA in Scotland; EHS in Northern Ireland) regulate the storage and disposal of radioactive wastes. Contact the relevant environment agency for advice. A statutory authorisation may be required under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (RSA93). Some radioactive substances can be disposed of without authorisation provided this is done in compliance with an exemption order under RSA93. Contact the relevant environmental regulator for advice.
Information on keeping, moving and transporting radioactive substances is available in the Health and Safety Executive information sheet on the control of radioactive substances.
Wreck (from shipping)
Wreck is defined in section 255 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 as including ‘jetsam, flotsam, lagan and derelict found in or on the shores of the sea or any tidal water’. For details of how Wreck should be managed, see the Maritime section of the NRG guide on infrastructure issues.
Regarding landfill limits (there are no targets placed on local authorities), we shall maintain waste disposal authorities’ (WDAs) obligations to limit landfill of biodegradable municipal waste. This is in accordance with national EU landfill directive obligations. The flexibility of the Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme (LATS) allows WDAs to avoid penalties by purchasing necessary allowances to landfill or borrowing allowances from their next year’s allocation.
Defra will take account of local circumstances when assessing waste management performance.
Trading does not apply in Wales where the Landfill Allowance Scheme is in operation.
Covered above as appropriate.
Waste: roles and responsibilities
Local and regional
Local authorities have a responsibility in respect of public land.
The Environment Agency have a wide range of regulatory duties related to waste management including storage and disposal. They would advise on steps to prevent environmental impact and liaise with partner responders to protect human health. In relation to waste management issues, the Environment Agency will:
- provide expert advice on waste management options, focusing on the activities that we regulate
- determine applications/registrations where appropriate (ie PPC permits and Waste Management Licences and Exemptions) and adopt regulatory positions where appropriate
- advise on pollution prevention measures and monitoring (including cleansing and disinfection).
Lead government department
Defra is the lead department on waste matters including the extent of local authorities waste collection and disposal functions relating to municipal waste and exercise of the Secretary of State’s powers. In Wales this function is carried out by the Welsh government and Welsh ministers.
Defra (through its Executive Agency, Animal Health), has a lead responsibility in respect of disposal of animal carcasses culled as part of an exotic disease control operation.
The Regional Resilience Team in the relevant Government Office will normally provide the conduit for communication with Defra, or else responders can contact Defra directly (see contacts below).
Other government involvement
The Department of Communities and Local Government (local authorities) and the Department of Health and the Health Protection Agency (public health).
Food Standards Agency has a role in advising the Recovery Co-ordinating Group on the safe disposal of food. This is to ensure that any food not acceptable for consumption is safely disposed of to prevent it re-entering the food chain.
Wales is as per England in the main, although Welsh government would take lead role instead of Defra.
In Scotland, contact the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
In Northern Ireland, contact the Environment and Heritage Service.
Defra would fund disposal of animal carcasses culled by Animal Health as part of an exotic disease control operation.
Information on funding the devolved administrations is given below.
In Wales, the Sustainable Waste Management Grant is a resource that the Welsh government provides to all local authorities to improve sustainable waste management in line with the underlying aims of the national waste strategy for Wales as set out in ‘Wise about Waste’ (June 2002).
The targets intend to ensure that Wales meets its obligations under the EC Landfill and other waste related Directives together with the underlying statutory requirement on the National Assembly to promote sustainable development.
You can find information on grants and funds that can be aimed at improving waste management. They cater for all manner and size of businesses, community groups, local authorities and other organisations.
See also the funding pages for the Welsh Assembly Government Waste Unit.
The Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing would have to consider emergency funding on a case by case basis within the ministerial powers given under the Government of Wales Act 2006 which gives broad powers and the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which gives narrower powers.
Information on local and national funding sources in Scotland can be found using the following link to the SEPA website.
Funding for general waste disposal falls to district councils and the Department of the Environment (DOE). Financial responsibility for specialist types of waste disposal lies with the producer of the waste or the relevant public body.
UK Recovery Handbook for Radiation Incidents provides guidance on waste disposal options for waste disposal effected by the incident.
Guidance on dealing with milk following a nuclear emergency is available as follows:
- guidance from the Agriculture and Food Countermeasures Working Group (AFCWG) - copies available from member organisations which include EA, Defra and FSA
- Chapter 17 – Procedures for Recovery)
- the HPA report
Environmental pollution and decontamination
Background and context
Recovery strategies need to take account of the environmental pollution and decontamination issues which can arise during an emergency. Minimising environmental damage starts during the incident but may be compounded during the recovery stage if appropriate action is not taken, giving rise to long term environmental damage (such as contamination of land and drinking water supplies). Examples of incidents involving both recovery and environmental pollution/decontamination include the Buncefield Oil Depot fire and the recent Polonium-210 contamination.
Policy and guidance
You can read Strategic National Guidance: The decontamination of buildings, infrastructure and open environment exposed to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials. This guidance is designed to help those in the public and private sector responsible for contingency planning for the decontamination of buildings, transport assets, critical national infrastructure and the open environment following a release of CBRN materials.
UK Recovery Handbook for Biological Incidents. HPA guidance to help decision-makers make the correct choice for the recovery of different environments after biological contamination. This handbook is the third in the series following on from the Radiation and Chemical Handbooks. Stakeholder agencies external to the HPA (Government Decontamination Service (GDS), Defra, FSA, Scottish Government, Home Office, NI Public Health Agency and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety) helped in the production of the guidance and ensured it is suitable for use during the recovery phase of a biological incident.
UK Recovery Handbook for Chemical Incidents - guidance in managing the recovery phase of chemical incidents where contamination has affected food production systems, inhabited areas or water environments. The handbook has been produced by HPA in collaboration with Defra, Fera and the Government Decontamination Service (GDS). The handbook is intended for use by Recovery Coordination Groups (RCGs) and other recovery stakeholders, as a user-friendly guidance document to aid the decision making process for developing and implementing a recovery strategy in the aftermath of a chemical incident.
UK Recovery Handbook for Radiation Incidents (Version 2) - June 2008 - a handbook to guide decision-makers through the available recovery options following an incident dispersing radioactive material in the environment.
Precautions to Minimise Effects of a CBRN Event on Buildings and Infrastructure - guidance on the pre-planning measures owners and managers can take to prevent contamination, to limit the spread of any contamination occurring and to make decontamination easier.
The release of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) substances or material – guidance for Local Authorities - guidance to give local authorities the information and advice they need to assist with contingency planning and in their existing roles and responsibilities.
Water UK Protocol for the Disposal of Contaminated Water - to ensure effective control and co-operation between the emergency services, local authorities, the water industry and the relevant environmental regulator (in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) in dealing with water-based contamination incidents which involve the potential pollution of the environment, the disposal of waste and/or the release of radioactive substances.
Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination (CLR 11) - a technical framework for applying a risk management process when dealing with land affected by contamination. The process involves identifying, making decisions on, and taking appropriate action to deal with land contamination in a way that is consistent with government policies and legislation within the UK.
A Framework for Assessing the Impact of Contaminated Land on Groundwater and Surface Water, 2 Volumes, CLR 1 - assessing the potential impact of contaminated sites on the water environment. It includes a qualitative assessment step and an introduction to quantitative techniques for predicting impacts on surface and groundwater quality.
Information can be found on the SEPA website.
In Northern Ireland the majority of the documents listed above do not apply. Only the UK Recovery Handbook for Radiation Incidents (Version 2) - June 2008 and the UK plan on marine spill response are applicable.
In Northern Ireland, Strategic Northern Ireland Guidance on the decontamination of the open and urban environments exposed to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) substances is available.
Roles and responsibilities
This section should be read in conjunction with the section on Recovery Structures.
Local and regional
During the early phases of an emergency, the emergency services will take responsibility for identifying the ‘Hot Zone’ or inner cordon working in close co-operation with other responders and contractors. During the recovery phase, the lead responsibility will pass to the authority responsible for remediation, usually the local authority, operating in close co-operation with site owners, insurers and contractors.
Local authorities are responsible for protecting and improving the environment in their area. Local authority pollution and decontamination expertise is usually delivered through the Environmental Health Service. Environmental Health services are carried out by district/borough councils in two tier areas and by unitary authorities. Like the Environment Agency they are environmental regulators and also have a wide range of enforcement powers.
Local authority specialists are likely to be involved in the response to the vast majority of pollution incidents. They respond to many different types of incident affecting all aspects of the environment, human health and property. Local authority pollution specialists work closely in partnership with specialists in other agencies such as the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the Health Protection Agency, the Food Standards Agency and the local Director of Public Health.
Usually an Environmental Health Officer will be a member of the Science and Technical Advice Cell (STAC), providing specialised advice at Gold and Silver command levels.
The Environment Agency is the leading public body for protecting and improving the environment in England and Wales. As an environmental regulator, with a wide range of roles and responsibilities, it responds to many different types of incident affecting the natural environment, people or property. The Environment Agency are a Category 1 responder under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.
The Environment Agency’s roles and responsibilities during recovery vary depending on the specific details of the incident in question. However, in general its main priorities during the recovery phase of incidents are to:
- prevent or minimise the impact of the incident on the environment, people and property
- where safe to do so, monitor the impact of the incident on the environment
- investigate the cause of the incident and consider enforcement action where appropriate
- take action where Environment Agency assets have been damaged
- seek remediation, clean-up or restoration of the environment
With regards to incidents affecting the environment, people or property, during the recovery phase the Environment Agency will, where relevant:
- provide technical support, information and advice on environmental impacts and the causes of the incident to our professional partners, community groups and the public as appropriate
- in the case of flooding, raise awareness among communities about flood risk, as well as encouraging sign up to the flood warning service (where provided)
- promote sustainable development principles as an element of the recovery process
- advise on pollution prevention activities and regulate the storage and disposal of wastes
- monitor the input of pollutants (within their remit) to the environment and where necessary the impact upon the environment
- where appropriate provide information on environmental impacts to the public and our professional partners
In marine incidents, the responsibility for emergency spills/discharges, emissions and losses of chemical containers etc falls to:
- Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) – if the spill is from shipping and offshore installations
- Harbour Authority – spills in their own waters they can handle without MCA being called in to lead
- Environment Agency – if the spill enters the sea via land or a river
- local authorities or private landowners – for cleaning public/private beaches – usually given technical/scientific support by MCA
When the National Contingency Plan for Marine Pollution from Shipping and Offshore Installations (NCP) is activated by the MCA, advice on environmental and public health issues and priorities for protection will be taken from the Environmental Group. This group could be established for any marine pollution response, including accidents in ports.
Typical members are:
- Marine & Fisheries Agency – representing Defra and Food Standards Agency where appropriate, approval for any use of oil treatment chemicals in shallow water
- Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) considering marine environmental monitoring programme
- Environment Agency – interests include water (bathing) quality and handling of waste and its subsequent disposal where it cannot be reused
- Natural England – seabirds, Sites of Scientific Interest, other animals and plants
- Health Protection Agency – public health issues
In Northern Ireland, an Environment Group would be established to deal with large incidents. It would be chaired by the Environment and Heritage Service and similar organisations to those operating in Great Britain would participate.
Lead government department
CBRN and HAZMAT
Defra is the lead government department in England for the recovery or clean-up phase of a CBRN or a major hazardous material (HAZMAT) incident where the contamination effects mainly the open environment. Other departments would lead depending on where the incident impacts. Where there is uncertainty, Cabinet Office would nominate the most appropriate lead department.
The Regional Resilience Team in the relevant government office will normally provide the conduit for communication with the nominated lead government department.
Overseas nuclear accidents
For overseas nuclear accidents where fallout is likely to affect the UK, Defra, with its nuclear radiation monitoring and nuclear emergency response system (RIMNET), is the lead government department. More information can be found from Defra.
Incidents involving defence nuclear assets
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) maintains a Nuclear Accident Response Organisation (NARO) to respond to an accident or incident, including one arising through terrorist acts, involving defence nuclear assets. (Defence nuclear assets include: nuclear weapons, special nuclear materials, nuclear facilities and naval nuclear reactors). The MOD is also nominated as the lead government department to co-ordinate the UK central government response to a defence nuclear accident, including as appropriate, liaison with the devolved administrations.
Other government involvement
The Government Decontamination Service (GDS) will provide advice and guidance to support those responsible for the decontamination of buildings, infrastructure, mobile transport assets and the open environment – by and large LAs – during their contingency planning for CBRN, significant HAZMAT incidents and during actual incidents.
GDS has a UK wide remit and aims to offer a common range of services to authorities responsible for remediation across the UK, irrespective of whether the lead responsibility for recovery sits with authorities in England or the devolved administrations.
GDS operate on an on-call basis and are able to respond following CBRN or major HAZMAT incidents on a 24/7 basis, 365 days a year. If the need arises, GDS will ensure that responsible authorities have ready access to the services of the specialist decontamination companies on its framework.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is an independent body that protects the health and well-being of the population. It plays a critical role in protecting people from infectious diseases and in preventing harm when hazards involving chemicals, poisons or radiation occur. It carries out a broad spectrum of work including health protection advice, surveillance and monitoring.
Environmental pollution and contamination may pose a threat to communities. It is essential that public health is considered during both the planning and risk assessment processes. The HPA is working to identify and understand how these substances can affect people and the best ways to protect public health. A 24/7 (365 days) on-call service is available to provide advice and support to government agencies and health professionals. The advice is provided through a combination of environmental scientists and medical staff on a variety of issues including environmental chemistry, radiation protection, public health impact and management (including first aid, decontamination, assessing and minimising exposure), public health toxicology, epidemiology and biological monitoring.
Health Protection Units work closely with Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) when an emergency occurs to ensure that relevant public health messages are released.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is responsible for food safety, including any food or foodstuff contaminated by an incident. During the recovery phase the FSA will:
- ensure any food products that are suspected or known to be contaminated do not enter the food chain
- enforce countermeasures that are put into place during the emergency phase and withdraw them as quickly as possible in accordance with point 1
- advise along with the EA for the safe disposal of food that has been affected by the incident
- support multi-agency working
Depending on the nature and impacts, the following other departments may be involved include:
- Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)
- Department for Transport (DFT)
- Ministry of Defence (MOD)
The Nuclear Emergency Planning Liaison Group has published guidance explaining the positions agreed on topics and aspects of nuclear emergency response identified by it as requiring clarification.
The guidance does not provide a comprehensive description of civil nuclear response arrangements.
In relation to recovery, Chapters 16 -18 deal with the Recovery Phase, the period after the termination of the release when return to normality and longer term countermeasures to protect the public are being considered and implemented. In the Recovery Phase, the same general principles apply as in the emergency phase, but there would, in practice, be more time for the resolution of problems.
The Department for Environment, Sustainability and Housing within the Welsh government has policy responsibility for environmental matters in Wales.
The Countryside Council for Wales has similar responsibilities during a marine emergency as Natural England ie seabirds, Sites of Scientific Interest, other animals and plants. The National Public Health Service Wales would lead on public health issues.
SEPA is Scotland’s environmental regulator and adviser, responsible to the Scottish Parliament through ministers. As well as a role in controlling pollution, they work with others to protect and improve the environment.
In Northern Ireland a lead Government Department has not yet been identified for the recovery or clean-up phase of a CBRN or a major HAZMAT incident.
An Environment Group would be established to deal with large incidents. It would be chaired by the Environment and Heritage Service and similar organisations to GB would participate.
The ‘polluter pays principle’ is an established principle whereby the party responsible for causing pollution of the environment is responsible for paying for the associated clean-up and restoration. This needs to be borne in mind during the recovery phase. Existing environmental liability regimes in the UK and work in progress on the implementation of the Environmental Liability Directive.
As noted in the strategic national guidance on the open environment (England only), it is the responsibility of land owners and occupiers to ensure adequate insurance cover to meet the cost of dealing with the consequences of a CBRN terrorist incident, as it would be for any other potentially serious incident such as fire or flood.
For further information, also see the guidance on dealing with insurance issues and financial impact on LAs.
A new statutory regime for cleaning up contaminated land came into force in Scotland on July 14 2000. The main responsibility for enforcing the new regime lies with local authorities, but there is also a major role for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in dealing with ‘special sites’ and pollution of controlled waters. Legislative provision for the new regime was made in the Environment Act 1995 through a new Part IIA to the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
The new regime follows the polluter pays principle. Those responsible for the land or the polluting activity will be expected to pay for remediation wherever practical. Funding from the Executive is only to be used where owners cannot be traced or where the Council owns the land, or where owners cannot pay for remediation for reasons of hardship.
The contaminated land regime should help to protect human health and the environment, facilitate the re-use of brownfield sites, and promote the regeneration of urban areas.
In Northern Ireland it is the responsibility of landowners and occupiers to ensure adequate insurance cover to meet the cost of dealing with the consequences of a CBRN terrorist incident, as it would be for any other potentially serious incident such as fire or flood. However in many cases as the CBRN risk is so open-ended insurers are increasingly less willing to cover the risk to private property. In the public sector, central and local government bears its own risk. Powers exist under the Criminal Damage Compensation Order 1977 for the government to make financial assistance available to commercial undertakings and private dwellings following an emergency or disaster involving the destruction of, or danger to, life and property.
Further useful information about marine accidents is available from the [International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation] (http://www.itopf.co.uk/) and the Centre of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution.
National Recovery Guidance - recovery from a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident
Background and context
Feedback from both the National Capability Survey and attendees at the Emergency Planning College’s ‘Recovering from a CBRN Attack’ course, highlighted the difficulty in getting hold of source material on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) recovery, which are often held by a range of sources and in a variety of locations. The need was identified for a source bringing together the range of information available on recovering from a CBRN incident.
This guidance has been developed in response to this demand and is aimed at providing a one-stop shop to signpost users to relevant information and guidance, including other parts of the National Recovery Guidance on recovering from a CBRN incident.
Recovery from significant incidents resulting in the releases of CBRN contamination may be a long and complex operation. The recovery phase formally starts once a situation or incident has been stabilised and risk assessments, monitoring and environmental sampling undertaken, though in practice, this is likely to be a transition and will be influenced by all actions taken during the emergency response phase.
Appropriate actions will be taken in the short, medium and long-term to rebuild, restore, and rehabilitate the affected communities in returning to the ‘new’ normal as soon as possible. The scale of the incident will determine the level of interest and involvement by the government at international, national, sub-national and local levels, devolved administrations, the private and voluntary sectors, key stakeholders, international bodies and the general public.
Preparation for the recovery phase must be an integral part of the emergency management process and should be considered equally alongside crisis and consequence management in the early stages of a response. Whilst the transition from the initial response phase of a CBRN incident to focus on recovery is likely to be measured in days or weeks after the actual incident, actions taken during the response phase can have a major (positive or negative) consequential impact on the short, medium and long term costs and time taken for recovery. It is therefore critically important that recovery factors are fully considered from the earliest stages of the response.
Policy and Guidance
UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Strategic National Guidance: The decontamination of buildings, infrastructure and open environment exposed to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials - guidance designed to help those in the public and private sector responsible for contingency planning for the contamination of buildings, transport assets, critical national infrastructure and the open environment following a release of CBRN materials.
UK Recovery Handbook for Chemical Incidents (Version 1) (May 2012) - guides decision-makers through the available Recovery options following an incident resulting in chemical contamination in the environment. The handbook is intended for use by Recovery Coordination Groups (RCGs) and other stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the public exposure to environmental contamination following a chemical incident.
UK Recovery Handbook for Radiation Incidents: (Version 3) (December 2009) - guides decision-makers through the available recovery options following an incident dispersing radioactive material in the environment.
Precautions to Minimise Effects of a CBRN Event on Buildings and Infrastructure (May 2004) - guidance on the pre-planning measures owners and managers can take to prevent contamination, to limit the spread of any contamination occurring and to make decontamination easier.
England and Wales
The release of Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear (CBRN) substances or material – Guidance for Local Authorities (Aug 2003) - produced by the Home Office, this provides guidance to give local authorities to assist with contingency planning and in their existing roles and responsibilities.
Preparing Scotland - resilience guidance clarifies definition of resilience and covers doctrine, principles, integrated emergency management, structures, role of Scottish Government and (UK) emergency powers. It provides a good practice guide around regulatory duties under the Civil Contingencies Act.
In the event of a CBRN incident in Scotland, it is likely that the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room (SGoRR) will be activated. If the particular circumstances of the emergency require co-ordination and support from the UK government, SGoRR will work with relevant departments in Whitehall. SGoRR will be the main point of contact for the 8 Scottish Strategic Co-ordinating Groups (SCGs).
Roles and responsibilities
Lead government department for recovery
Whilst local authority and emergency service structures can cope with a wide variety of emergencies, the nature of CBRN incidents are such that many will be outside the recovery capabilities of the normal local response groups. In such circumstances, where there is a need for central government and the devolved administrations involvement to lead and co-ordinate as appropriate, this is undertaken in accordance with the established concept of a lead government department (LGD) - see the list of lead departments publications.
Any CBRN incident may require the involvement of government departments and devolved administrations (whose policy areas have been impacted upon), specialist agencies and delivery bodies, local authorities (also possibly civil nuclear and MOD involvement) and several other local and sub-national responders.
The LGD will provide effective co-ordination and clarity on roles and responsibilities crucial at strategic, tactical and operational levels, to ensure the success of the Recovery process. The LGD has also responsibility for co-ordinating funding decisions at central government level.
Defra is the LGD in England for the recovery phase of a CBRN or a major HAZMAT incident and is responsible for co-ordinating the cross-government recovery effort in addition to their specific departmental responsibilities. In other parts of the UK responsibility for the co-ordination of CBRN recovery rests with the respective devolved administration. Defra is also the main government sponsor for the Government Decontamination Service (GDS) see below.
The department also has policy responsibility for animal disease and welfare, food supply, the environment, clean up of open environment, water, waste and some marine environment issues and environmental recovery. Defra will work with the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) which is responsible for leading the delivery of operational response in the event of an exotic disease outbreak.
LAs have a major role to play in supporting emergency services by making available the wide range of equipment, expertise and resources at their disposal. During the early phases of an incident, the emergency services will take responsibility for identifying and managing the ‘Hot Zone’ or inner cordon working in close co-operation with other responders and agencies. The LA will normally be responsible for co-ordinating the recovery phase, usually as chair of the Recovery Co-ordinating Group (RCG).
Activation of the RCG will be carried out by the LA, usually following a request by / agreement with the Strategic Co-ordinating Group (SCG). The RCG should be formed as soon as possible to influence the SCG Response, and a discussion about its establishment should take place at the first SCG meeting.
Other government department agencies
DCLG’s Resilience & Emergencies Division (RED) is responsible for the UK government’s resilience response function in England between the national and local levels. It is a fundamental part of UK arrangements for responding to and recovering from emergencies, irrespective of cause or location, which requires co-ordinated central and local government action. RED provides the link between clearly defined central and local resilience functions with regard to planning for and responding to emergencies. More information is available from the DCLG pages of GOV.UK.
During wide-scale civil emergencies RED forms an essential link and conduit for communications between central government departments and local authority resilience to help to preserve the safety of the community. In this capacity RED is responsible for co-ordinating the resilience function between Central Government and the Strategic Co-ordination Group (SCG) – the multi-agency group of local partners who manage the response to emergencies at the local level.
Activities during the recovery phase of a wide area or high impact CBRN incident will be co-ordinated by the relevant LGD for Recovery as identified in Departments’ Responsibilities for Planning, Response and Recovery from Emergencies. The role of the LGD for recovery will include co-ordinating cross-departmental action (via ministerial/officials groups as necessary) as well as providing any support to local responders (eg through provision of a GLO to liaise with the Recovery Co-ordinating Group (RCG)).
Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) Cabinet Office works in partnership with government departments, the devolved administrations and key stakeholders to enhance the UK’s ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. Browse Cabinet Office information on emergencies.
The Home Office’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) is the lead department for counter-terrorist policy and it ensures that action is taken in the interests of public safety outlined in the counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, including alerting those in immediate threat, through the police. It leads on wider impacts in England including terrorist incidents below the threshold of a catastrophic emergency. It is responsible for the police in England and Wales and national security and is the LGD for any terrorist incidents in Great Britain and incidents involving mass fatalities. It will provide strategic direction on the management of the incident and co-ordinate activities of other government departments. Read more on counter-terrorism.
HM Treasury (HMT) - although it is the responsibility of land owners and occupiers to ensure adequate insurance cover to meet costs, HMT is responsible for the provision of additional funding to enable business and private sector to return to ‘new normality’ after a CBRN incident. It will work alongside the local authorities, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the insurance industry to assist in this recovery phase. Insurance and insurance companies will also have a major role to play as their loss adjusters will be amongst the first on the ground following an incident.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is responsible for promoting British interests overseas and supporting British citizens and businesses around the world. It also supports UK nationals who are travelling and living overseas and offers assistance and guidance in the event of any International incident or crisis. Read about the FCO policy on supporting British nationals overseas.
Food Standards Agency (FSA) is responsible for providing advice to the affected public concerning any implications for the food chain. This covers the handling and consumption of food and restrictions and the movement of crops and animals into the food chain of affected areas.
Department of Health (DH) provides strategic leadership to the NHS and social care organisations in England. It will take control of NHS resources in England in the event of a significant emergency, provide co-ordination and focal point for the NHS and support health ministers. It will also co-ordinate with health departments in the devolved administrations. During recovery, DH will support, fund and provide resources, including the logistics and distribution of stockpiled supplies of certain drugs and necessary equipment. Read more on the DH website.
Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) is responsible for managing disruptions to telecommunications and the postal service. As LGD for telecom and postal sector resilience policy, it will lead the Response to a civil emergency primarily involving telecoms and postal sector, or form part of a response to an event where telecoms or postal operations are disrupted, either directly or indirectly. Read further information regarding telecoms resilience
The National Emergency Plan for the Telecommunications Sector is owned and administered by the Electronic Communications – Resilience and Response Group (EC-RRG).
UK Met Office is an agency of BIS and has a critical role during the Response and Recovery from any emergency as the Recovery could be compromised by changing weather conditions. The Radioactive Incident Monitoring Network (RIMNET) provide support during the consequence management of CBRN incidents and is managed by the Met Office, working in partnership with DECC and Defra on behalf of all government departments and agencies who would be involved in a radiological/nuclear incident.
Government Office for Science is also based in BIS and is the base of the Government Chief Scientific Advisor, who will play a central role for any scientific advice or guidance required by ministers during the Response and Recovery phases.
Department for Transport (DFT) is responsible for restoring transport services disrupted by a CBRN incident which includes facilitating access to the incident by goods and services, regulation of the transport of dangerous goods (including CBRN contaminated material) and the regulation of driver hours (eg allowing longer hours to expedite clean-up). It also has branches responsible for investigating aviation, marine and rail accidents, which includes CBRN incidents. It is responsible for safe transport of contaminated materials or dangerous goods from an incident site. More information is available on the DFT area of this site.
Ministry of Defence (MOD) is responsible for providing security to UK nationals and Overseas Territories. This includes:
- Military Aid to the Civil Authority (MACA)
- specialist technical and scientific advice and equipment through its agencies: Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), and via contracts with the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)
It is responsible for the response phase of a radiation incident relating to defence nuclear installations or defence nuclear material in transit. During recovery through MACA, it will assist police with site access control, or assist in the return of evacuated people. MOD can deploy a Technical Response Force (TRF) to assist with making devices safe in contaminated areas and decontamination. More information on military aid is available.
Environment Agency (EA) is the Defra Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) for protecting and improving the environment in England and is also an Assembly Sponsored Public Body (ASPB) responsible to the Welsh government. It is the largest environmental regulator in Europe with a wide range of roles and responsibilities. Its roles and responsibilities during recovery vary depending on the specific details of the incident in question. However, in general their main priorities during the recovery phase of incidents are to:
- prevent or minimise the impact of the incident on the environment, people and property
- where safe to do so, monitor the impact of the incident on the environment
- investigate the cause of the incident and consider enforcement action where appropriate
- take action where EA assets have been damaged
- regulate waste to landfill disposal
Additional information is available on the EA website.
Government Decontamination Service (GDS) provides advice, pre-planning and guidance to support those responsible for the decontamination of buildings, infrastructure, mobile transport assets and the open environment. GDS maintains a framework of contractors who can provide decontamination related services (sampling and monitoring, decontamination and contaminated waste disposal) and ensure that any responsible authorities can have ready access to the services of these specialist decontamination companies. The responsible authority (usually the relevant LA) provides the funds to engage the framework contractors.
GDS has a UK-wide remit and aims to offer a common range of services to authorities responsible for remediation across the UK, irrespective of whether the lead responsibility for recovery sits with authorities in England or the devolved administrations.
Fera, as an executive agency of Defra, is responsible for Plant and Bee Health policy and management. It works on food security and environment protection and provides emergency response and recovery services including the GDS. In addition Fera uses its translational science and research in developing risk and uncertainty modelling, advanced analytical chemistry and next generation DNA and environmental fate and risk. More information is available on Fera’s website.
Health Protection Agency (HPA) is an independent body that protects the health and well-being of the population. It plays a critical role in protecting people from infectious diseases and in preventing harm when hazards involving chemicals, poisons or radiation occur. It carries out a broad spectrum of work including health protection advice, surveillance and monitoring.
CBRN contamination may pose a threat to communities. It is essential that public health is considered during both the planning and risk assessment processes. The HPA works to identify and understand how these substances can affect people and the best ways to protect public health. A 24/7 (365 days) on-call service is available to provide advice and support to government agencies and health professionals. The advice is provided through a combination of environmental scientists and medical staff on a variety of issues including environmental chemistry, radiation protection, public health impact and management (including first aid, decontamination, assessing and minimising exposure), public health toxicology, epidemiology and biological monitoring. More information is available on HPA’s website.
Health Protection Scotland (HPS) was established by the Scottish Government in 2005 to strengthen and co-ordinate health protection in Scotland.
HPS delivers effective and specialist national services which co-ordinate, strengthen and support activities aimed at protecting all the people of Scotland from infectious and environmental hazards.
HPS is organised into 3 specialist groups with expertise provided by a multidisciplinary workforce, which includes doctors, nurses, scientists and information staff. The specialist groups are:
- Healthcare-associated infections and infection control
- Blood-borne viruses, sexually transmitted infections, immunisation, respiratory and vaccine-preventable disease
- Gastrointestinal and zoonoses, travel and environment and health
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is Scotland’s environmental regulator. SEPA is a Non-Departmental Public Body, accountable through Scottish Ministers to the Scottish Parliament. SEPA advises Scottish ministers, regulated businesses, industry and the public on environmental best practice.
SEPA protects communities by regulating activities that can cause harmful pollution and by monitoring the quality of Scotland’s air, land and water. The regulations implemented by SEPA also cover the keeping and use, and the accumulation and disposal, of radioactive substances. More information is available on the SEPA website.
Overseas nuclear accidents
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is responsible for the alert notification classification and response phases in an overseas incident situation. They will also ensure the transition of LGD responsibility to the recovery phase will pass to Defra. The Overseas Nuclear Accident UK Response Guidance outlines the UK domestic response to an overseas nuclear incident arising from an incident at any offshore civil nuclear facilities, or the transportation of nuclear material (including air, shipping, rail or road) or any other nuclear incident or accident which could have a direct or indirect impact on the UK. It includes:
- LGD responsibilities
- international conventions and agreements
- UK warning point arrangements
- UK response plan for overseas nuclear accidents/incidents
Links to additional guidance
Case studies (incidents and exercises)
You can read the following case studies:
- Avian influenza at Bernard Matthews: February 2007
- Foot and mouth disease outbreak, 2001
- Litvinenko Polonium incident, November 2006
- Buncefield: 11 December 2005
- Lewes flooding: 12 October 2000
- Sea Empress oil spill: 15 February 1996
- Dealing with waste - Camberwell Fire (Lakanal) 2009
Further information and contacts
Defra helpline: 08459 335577
Emergency out-of-hours contact, Defra Duty Room: 020 7270 8960
Contacts in local Animal Health offices can be found at: Animal Health District Offices
General Enquiries: 08708 506 506 (Mon-Fri 8-6)
Enquiries (non-UK calls): 00 44 1709 389 201 (Mon-Fri 8-6)
For the hard of hearing a minicom service is also available by calling 08702 422 549.
In an emergency: 0800 807060 (Freephone 24 Hour, to report an environmental incident)
Hazardous waste registration number: 03708 502 858 (Mon-Fri 8-6) - any enquiries regarding hazardous waste registration.
Agricultural waste registration: 0845 603 3113 (Mon-Fri 8-6) - any enquiries regarding agricultural waste registration.
Floodline: 0845 988 1188 (24 Hour) - information about flooding.
Food Standards Agency
General enquiries helpline: 020 7276 8000
Incidents contact: 020 7276 8737 (Mon – Fri 9-5)
In an emergency, out-of-hours contact can be made through the Defra Duty Room: 0345 051 8466 or fax: 0845 051 8487. The Defra Duty Officer will contact the appropriate officer ‘on call’ in the incidents branch.
General Enquiries: 0300 1000 315
In an emergency out of hours contact can be made through the Defra Duty Room on 0345 051 8466 or fax 0845 051 8487.
Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Emergency help: 999 and ask for Coastguard
Accident prevention: 02380 329 323
Civil contingency: 02380 329 487
Coastguard rescue: 02380 329 487
Contingency plans – ports and harbours: 02380 329 525
Counter pollution and response: 02380 329 544
Hazardous substance spill: 02380 329 407
Information line: 0870 600 6505
Waste disposal: 02380 329 503
SEPA Corporate Office: 01786 45 77 00
Floodline: 0845 988 1188
Pollution hotline: 0800 80 70 60
For useful contacts, see Scottish Government website.
Animal Health and Welfare, Scottish Government Rural Directorate
Telephone: 0131 244 6015
Fax: 0131 244 6616
See the list of contact numbers for Divisional Veterinary Offices (both office and out-of-hours telephone numbers).