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Press Releases Uncontrolled Ammonia Release Exercise Very Successful

Toni Brendish BW

Wednesday 18 January 2017

The opportunity for local emergency services to work closely with Westland Milk Products to rehearse a response to an uncontrolled ammonia gas release proved invaluable, Chief Executive Toni Brendish said today.

“What the exercise showed us,” Brendish said, “was that the planning and training we have already put in place worked well. The common take-out from the day was that while there can always be improvements in any system, we pretty much had it right. There was a strong and effective response to the scenario which saw staff and public safety accorded the highest priority.”

Brendish also noted that all of the parties involved agreed that one of the most beneficial outcomes from the event was the real experience of the exercise itself with the opportunities it presented for cooperation and learning together.

Police, Fire Service, Ambulance Service, Civil defence and other emergency response organisations participated in the exercise based on a scenario that an ammonia tank at Westland had ruptured and toxic gas was blowing toward Hokitika, and that there were injured staff on site who had to be rescued.

“What all of the emergency service people said was that this was a unique opportunity for them to work alongside a big company like Westland to rehearse what we should do if this were ever to be a real incident. The main message was that we should do it more often.”

“The other great thing was that the intensive preparation we did ahead of the exercise to alert Hokitika residents really paid off. Neither we nor the emergency services received any calls by people worried about the sounding of the ammonia siren. That tells us that the communications methods we used to get information out to residents worked, and that learning can also be applied to a real incident.”


For further inquiries contact:
Steve Attwood – Communications Manager
DDI: 03 – 943 0580
C: 027 419 1080


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