Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, right, and other government officials discuss issues surrounding the management of hazardous materials in the Cayman Islands. - Photo: Ken Silva

Hazard Management Cayman Islands is developing a plan for dealing with hazardous materials in the territory, the government announced on Friday.

The plan is being developed with the help of the U.K. Foreign Commonwealth Office, which paid for its disaster manager and four hazmat plan writers from the U.S. to come to Cayman for several days to consult with local officials, said Hazard Management Awareness and Education Officer Simon Boxall.

The consultants met with officials from the Department of Environmental Health, the Health Services Authority, the Customs Department and other government agencies. Mr. Boxall said an outline draft was developed, and that the full hazmat response plan should be completed within “a few months.”

Among other aspects of hazardous material management, the plan will address what resources and capabilities are in Cayman to respond to a hazmat incident.

“With this knowledge, we can then identify where the resource gaps are,” according to a government announcement. “We also need to clarify the roles and responsibilities; for example, where does the Department of Environmental Health, or the Fire Department or the Police Service or Hazard Management fit in to hazardous material preparedness and response activities?”

Government stated that another issue that needs addressing is that once hazardous materials are cleared through Cayman ports, there is limited ability to track such items.

“This has the potential to pose a significant threat to the public and in particular to first responders if there is a spillage, fire, or other incident,” according to the statement.

Danielle Coleman, Hazard Management’s deputy director of preparedness and planning, said that developing a plan to deal with hazmat issues is crucial for the safety of the territory.

“In almost every home in the Cayman Islands, there are hazardous materials. Some are toxic, some are explosive, some flammable. Hazardous materials have become part of our everyday lives,” Ms. Coleman said. “When produced, stored, transported and used properly, hazardous materials make our lives easier. When mishandled or when accidents occur, such materials can present a deadly threat to public health and safety.

“To contain the consequences of a hazmat incident, Cayman must have plans and standard operating procedures in place that are maintained and practiced regularly by all first responders who have [a] role to play in the response to an incident. The detrimental consequences of not planning for these events are very high and could include fatalities, property damage and environmental contamination.”

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  1. The Dump (aka landfill) workers exposed to high levels, though mostly invisible, of hazardous substances on a daily basis. During landfill fires emission levels become extreme. Gases and fumes after a rain are also at extreme levels.
    Yet none of them wears hazmat siutes or even proper masks. I hope their employment contracts include provisions for lifetime medical and life insurances.