20th January 2018


The impacts of chemical accidents can be deadly, for both human beings and the environment. A chemical accident or emergency refers to an event which results in the release of a substance or substances that are hazardous to human health and/or the environment in the short or long term. These events can cause illness, injury, disability or death to human beings, often in large numbers, and can result in extensive damage to the environment with considerable human and economic costs (OECD/ UNEP). Chemical accidents may be categorised as a major accident or a disaster depending upon the number of casualties, injuries and damage to the property or environment. A major accident is defined in the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals (MSIHC) Rules, 1989, issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, whereas ‘disaster’ is defined in the DM Act, 2005. (12)

HAZCHEM: HAZCHEM are chemical compounds that can be used for mass destruction, causing serious damage to the health and property of society. (13)

HAZMATs: HAZMATs are any solids, liquids, or gases that can harm people, other living organisms, property, or the environment. HAZMAT may be radioactive, flammable, explosive, toxic, corrosive, biohazardous, an oxidiser, an asphyxiant, a pathogen, an allergen, or may have other characteristics that render it hazardous in specific circumstances. (13)


The Indian Chemical Industry owing to the wide spectrum of products manufactured and also due to the increasing development of new products has begun to pose a challenge in terms of the environment and health risks. Growth of chemical industry in India has increased the risk of occurrence of incidents associated with hazardous chemicals (HAZCHEM). Chemical industries in India manufacture a wide and diverse range of products. These can be grouped into ten important chemical sectors: Pesticides, Fertilisers, Oil Refineries, Petrochemicals, Bulk Drugs, Dyes & Dye Intermediates, Chlor-Alkali, Soda Ash, Paint and Ink & Printing Ink.

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