Burning oil near a high-risk installation released dense smoke; an operator suffered a minor burn on the arm, and operations were interrupted for hours. It may seem like a minor incident, but it was enough for HyChem to test its internal emergency plan (PEI), improve its connection to the Póvoa Fire Department's response systems, and identify opportunities for improvement.
"The exercise we carried out with the collaboration of the firefighters and including the evacuation of the facilities by colleagues and external company collaborators ran smoothly and effectively, and allowed us, once again, to train the intervention of the teams in the operational scene", commented Arlindo Carvalho, Chief Operations Officer of HyChem, who led the crisis team.
"It was a very positive test, conducted in a professional manner and involving the entire industrial park in a real simulation of an emergency situation, which gave us indications regarding some actions to develop - after all, it is the reason we organize these exercises regularly", he added.
The drill was previously communicated to the competent authorities and involved internal intervention teams, including the Company's medical staff, as well as external emergency response resources.
The 2nd Commander of the Póvoa de Santa Iria Firefighters, Vítor Magrinho, who is well acquainted with the facilities, appreciated the way the exercise unfolded: "We received an alert of a fire and arrived quickly with our resources. The teams complemented each other well on the ground, which allowed us to quickly extinguish the fire. The situation was resolved within about 30 minutes, thanks to the organization and the commitment of the teams, who did not let the fire escalate to a higher level."
In fact, one hour after the alarm, the debriefing was already underway, with the operational teams and external observers sharing their evaluation of the performance from the intervention and crisis cells, and the way the mechanisms appointed in the PEI responded to the scenario created.
All those who had gathered at the meeting points returned to their workplaces and the colleague "burned" on his right arm also did not have to be absent, and returned to his post with a smile, but with a new experience to tell at night, at home.