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Analysis of a petrol plume over England: 18-19 January 1997.
  1. F Welch,
  2. V S Murray,
  3. A G Robins,
  4. R G Derwent,
  5. D B Ryall,
  6. M L Williams,
  7. A J Elliott
  1. Chemical Incident Response Service, Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital Trust, London, UK.

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVES: About 7000 tonnes of unleaded petrol were discharged into the English Channel after a tanker collision off Ostend on Saturday 18 January 1997. The petrol evaporated and the vapour plume was carried across the central part of England to Wales, resulting in reports of unidentified odours, and irritation of the eyes, skin, and upper respiratory tract. This work uses this incident to show how marine and atmospheric dispersion modelling together with routine air quality monitoring can assist in identifying hazards to the population at risk from chemical incidents. METHODS: Public health surveillance and results from environmental sampling were compared with the behaviour of the plume as predicted by computer modelling. RESULTS: The predicted plume path and dispersion were shown to correlate well with the results from surveillance and environmental analysis. CONCLUSIONS: There is a need for public health professionals to interact with medical toxicologists, atmospheric and marine scientists and engineers, and other environmental experts in managing events of this nature.

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