(CNS): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is supporting the Cayman government in a project to develop a Hazardous Materials Management Response Plan for the country because, according to officials, no one is tracking what happens to dangerous substances once they arrive here. Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI), which is coordinating the effort to address this lack of information on hazardous materials once they clear through the ports, admitted that the materials pose a significant threat to the public and first responders if there is a spillage, fire or other incident.
Government officials said in a press release that the project involves identifying what resources and capabilities are already in Cayman to respond to a HazMat incident as well as resource gaps. The plan will also examine roles and responsibilities of the various relevant departments, such as the Department of Environmental Health, the Cayman Islands Fire Service, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and Hazard Management, and see where they all fit regarding preparation and response.
HMCI Deputy Director for Preparedness and Planning, Danielle Coleman, said there are hazardous and possibly toxic, explosive or flammable materials in almost all homes.
“Hazardous materials have become part of our everyday lives. When produced, stored, transported and used properly, hazardous materials make our lives easier. When mishandled or when accidents occur, such materials can present a deadly threat to public health and safety,” she said.
Coleman said that a multi-agency approach to HazMat planning could help to identify the threats and the resources needed to respond safely, efficiently and effectively.
“To contain the consequences of a HazMat incident, Cayman must have plans and standard operating procedures in place that are maintained and practiced regularly by all first responders who have a role to play in the response to an incident,” she added.
Coleman warned that the detrimental consequences of not planning for these events are very high and could include fatalities, property damage and environmental contamination.
Thanking the FCO for help with the development of the Cayman plan, she said, “We feel sure it will make our islands stronger and safer in the long run.”