In the News
The Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) of the European Chemicals Agency has proposed new occupational exposure limits for benzene, nickel and its compounds and acrylonitrile. https://echa.europa.eu/-/committee-for-risk-assessment-recommends-an-occupational-exposure-limit-for-benzene. Benzene is a genotoxic carcinogen, known to cause leukaemia. The proposed OEL of 0.05 parts per million will protect workers from leukaemia as well as other adverse health effects. RAC also proposed an OEL of 0.45 parts per million for acrylonitrile. For nickel and its compounds, it proposed OELs of 0.005 mg/m3 for respirable dust and 0.03 mg/m3 for inhalable dust.
The RAIB (Rail Accident Investigation Branch) has published a report into the derailment of freight wagons at a busy junction in south London. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/report-042018-freight-train-derailment-at-lewisham. The derailment occurred on recently re-laid track which was formed out of pre-fabricated modular units. The cause of the derailment was a “track twist” which occurred because of the poor support given to the track bearers by the underlying formation and the flexibility of the joins between modules.
The Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents commented “The designers of the new layout had not fully understood how this type of assembly could behave if the track bearers were not fully supported by the ballast”. He added “RAIB has investigated the interaction between poor track geometry and unevenly loaded trains several times before and has recommended action to deal with the problem. It is of concern that, although the railway industry has established a working group to examine these issues, it remains unclear how its findings will be translated into actions to mitigate the risk of freight train derailment”.
Environment Agency Chair, Emma Howard Boyd has called on water companies and farmers to cut the amount of pollution incidents harming England’s waters and for penalties to be made tougher, as the EA publishes The State of the Environment: Water Quality report today.
Although the number of serious incidents has fallen by almost two thirds since 2001, the report reveals that 317 occurred in 2016. Agriculture is now the largest sector responsible for water pollution, while the number of serious incidents by water companies has remained at around 60 per year for the past decade – more than one a week.
The report shows that water quality has improved markedly over the last 30 years, following more than a century of poorly regulated industrial practices. England has the cleanest bathing waters since records began and rivers that were biologically dead are reviving. But there is more work to do to achieve the Environment Agency’s ambition of a cleaner, healthier and better managed water environment