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North-East catastrophe plans are in place ( Go in, Stay in, Tune in.

Byline: By Daniel Cochlin

Disaster experts in the North-East said last night they were well-prepared if a fire similar to that at Hemel Hempsted broke out.

The blaze has devastated the surrounding area, and there were fears a similar accident could happen at huge facilities such as the Shell depot at Jarrow.

The North-East's last major environmental disaster was in January 2002, when toxic gas escaped at the Distillex chemical factory in North Shields.

Many homes were evacuated and thousands of people ordered to stay indoors.

Emergency plans ( the Control of Major Accidents and Hazards (Comah) ( were drawn up after devastating explosions in the 1970s in Flixborough, Lincolnshire, and Serveso in Italy.

Tyne and Wear chief emergency planner Val Bowman said: "Shell Oil in Jarrow is very similar to the Hemel Hempsted site, although smaller, so we are studying what has happened to see if there are any lessons that can be learned." In Jarrow, site bosses have written to homes within 250 metres of the plant, where families would be ordered to stay inside or be evacuated if fire broke out.

There is a siren to warn people nearby, and the immediate message would be Go in, Stay in, Tune in.

Tyne and Wear Fire Brigade's Dave Simpson said: "The key is pre-planning ( we have arrangements to bring in extra foam from neighbouring brigades or from suppliers, and we can calculate almost the exact amount very quickly."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 13, 2005
Words:238
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