RAE BENELUX BVBA TO HELP CONTINGENCY OF TRAIN DISASTER WETTEREN (BELGIUM)
HOOGSTRATEN (BELGIUM) - 16th of May 2013 - In the very early morning of the 4th of May, 2013, a rail freight transport, of which three wagons contained 300 metric tons of the highly toxic, reactive and flammable compound acrylonitrile, derailed. The ensuing explosion and fire killed one and injured around 100 people, mostly by inhaling the toxic fumes and decomposition products - among which hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxides and acetylene - of the fire.
2,000 inhabitants living in close perimeters of the disaster were evacuated and the the Provincial Emergency and Intervention Plan was put in motion. Fire services throughout the region were called upon to contain the fire and to ensure the safety of inhabitants of the perimeters of the disaster.
Acrylonitrile was found to have contaminated the sewage system and groundwater. The contamination of the sewage system raised concerns as acrylonitrile or its decomposition products could easily find their way into the homes of the people living in Wetteren and Schellebelle.
RAE BENELUX BVBA GLAD TO BE OF SERVICE
RAE Benelux bvba was called upon to deliver state of the art measurement instruments to assess any risk to the inhabitants of Wetteren. AreaRAE's were put on the scene to monitor downwind development of the hazardous fumes. MiniRAE's 3000 - market leading Photo Ionisation Detectors for volatile organic compounds - were put in action immediately to painstakingly measure the air in every home that could be affected by the sewage contamination. To ensure that inhabitants could return to their homes earlier without compromise to their safety, eleven specialized Photo Ionisation lamps that can detect acrylonitrile with a resolution of 0.1 ppm were flown in from Denmark to be deployed the next day.
RAE Benelux bvba was glad that they could not only deliver the instruments, but also be on site to inspect, calibrate and repair any instrument that was used over the course of the disaster contingency immediately. Any questions regarding the use of the MiniRAE 3000 instruments that the firemen had would be answered on the spot by the product engineers of RAE Benelux bvba.
The fire services have been working since the disaster to prevent any further accidents at the disaster scene. A beginning has been made to drain any hazardous materials from damaged train wagons. The groundwater has been contaminated, so RAE Benelux bvba will keep on working with local authorities to monitor levels of acrylonitrile on site until the ground has been remediated. Evacuated inhabitants will be cleared to come back home in the course of the following weeks, after numerous evacuees already returned.
RAE Benelux bvba offers its heartfelt condolences to anyone who were or knows someone that was affected by this tragic event.
About RAE Systems
RAE Systems innovates, designs and manufacturers gas sensors and radiation detectors. The company offers a full line of fixed and portable gas detection solutions, including handheld and personal chemical, compound and radiation detection instruments. RAE Systems’ real-time safety and detection systems have been deployed by organizations in the oil and gas, fire and HazMat, industrial safety, national security and environmental markets, helping save lives and maintain safety in 120 countries. The company’s industry-leading gas sensors and radiation detection solutions are widely recognized for their performance and reliability. Learn more at raesystems.com.