(65g) Learning Lessons from a Big Chemical Disaster in Korea

Authors: 
Moon, I., Yonsei University

Learning lessons from a big chemical disaster in Korea

Kwnaghee Lee and Il moon*

Department
of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Yonsei
University, 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu,
Seoul 120-749, Republic of Korea

On September 27, 2012 a massive chemical
dispersion disaster occurred at the Gumi National Industrial complex in the
southern city of Korea. About 8 tons of hydrogen fluoride gas leaked as the
valve of tank lorry was opened due to a worker' mistake. The operators at the
factory had never experienced such a big chemical disaster, and the fire
station in the area did not have enough equipment at the time of chemical
accident, so that an initial counter measurement could not be conducted
smoothly. Due to this accident, 5 workers were killed and about 3,600 local
residents had to receive a medical treatment at hospitals due to the accident. And
the damage proceeded to the second and third stage, causing 17.7 billion KRW of
damage to enterprises and spoiling the crops on 323.8ha of land. After the Gu-mi disaster, law and regulations, government
organization, and industrial safety system were completely revised and culture
have leaded positive effects towards managing and responding to chemical
disasters. The governmental action has been led to make more practical plan and
manual to control and respond to chemical accident. The governmental
reorganization against chemical disaster such as Joint inter-agency Chemical
Emergency Preparedness Center which is a specialized
agency focused on responding to chemical disasters has also made to increase
technicalities of chemical accidents response. In addition, the relevant laws
and regulations has clarified the different acts and programs on control,
management and assessment of chemicals along as well as its accident. Moreover,
private and public enterprises have been also making efforts to systematically
manage safety issues and build high-level safety culture. In this paper, we
discuss the changes attitudes against chemical accidents from various
viewpoints and the successful case in which the relevant agencies responded to
major chemical accidents more efficiently after those changes. In order to
improve the initial response system against chemical accidents continuously, it
is required to strengthen the role of on-site coordinator, establish the
Chemical Accident Investigation Committee on a national level. This study covers
the big systematic changes in laws, regulations, business culture for the chemical
safety management after a big chemical release accidents.