65,000 Catalans participate this Wednesday in the largest chemical risk drill ever carried out in Catalonia

Up to 65,000 people from Tarragona, Vila-seca, Canonja, Salou and Reus are called to participate this Tuesday in the largest chemical accident drill ever carried out in Catalonia. The loss hypothesis will be a chlorine leak at a company in the southern petrochemical estate, which would have a radius of three kilometers. The test will begin at six in the afternoon, and at 6:30 p.m. the chemical risk sirens will sound. That is when it is planned that people who are within the zone of influence will have to receive an alert on their mobile phone. It is a system that will be released for the first time in Catalonia and that is managed by the State.

Of the 45 sirens that Civil Protection has around the petrochemical estates, 20 will sound, those that take the scope of incidence of the false accident. Specifically, the areas that will participate in the drill are the Ponent neighborhoods in Tarragona, the Covamar and Mirador de Salou urbanizations, part of an industrial estate in Reus and the entire population of La Canonja and Vila-seca (urban area and the Pinewood).

One of the goals of Carrying out the test in the afternoon is to see how some businesses and extracurricular activities react. From Civil Protection they have recognized that they do not know what percentage of the population will react positively to the drill and confinement, but that they hope that companies lower the blinds. Those responsible for the body pointed out that some large companies, such as PortAventura or some petrochemical companies undertook to activate the self-protection plan and simulate confinement. On the other hand also there will be complicity on the part of supermarket chains and small neighborhood business establishments. This should allow citizens who are on the street at that time to quickly confine themselves.

From Civil Protection they have recalled that in the event of a toxic cloud, a person confined at home with closed doors and windows would reduce the effects of toxicity to only 10%; while if the windows of the home were open, the level would increase to 30%. Also, you should turn off the air conditioning and try to avoid staying in a car. In the case of this Tuesday’s drill, public transport users have been urged to get out of the vehicle and try to lock themselves in a building. A measure is also recommended for drivers of private vehicles.

Notice and dissemination

One of the elements that will be tested in the drill is the Cell Broadcasting system -baptized in the State as ‘ES Alert’- for warning mobile phones. It will be the first time that it is tested in Catalonia. The service responds to the obligation established by the European regulations on electronic communications in the Member States to have a public system to send alerts to mobile phones in the event of a catastrophe or serious emergency in an area.

The activation will be carried out from the General Directorate of Civil Protection and Emergencies of the Ministry of the Interior, after the Cecat of the Generalitat has sent a message. In fact, The talks between the Generalitat and the State have gone on for months so that this system could be tested in the drill. Once the technology completes the testing phase and is fully operational, it may be the autonomous communities that have the ability to send it directly from their civil protection operational coordination centers. The Generalitat is already making arrangements with the Ministry of the Interior to be able to send it from Catalonia.

How does the notice arrive?

The message that users will receive is an alert and not an SMS. It will activate the sound of the mobile and will not leave until the receiver has read it and manually stopped it. However, on each device it will be displayed differently.

To publicize that the drill will take place, 40,000 brochures and 1,300 posters have been printed with information on the test and what to do in the event of a chemical accident. The material has been distributed by the municipalities, in collaboration with the municipalities involved. Parallel, Civil Protection has also prepared videos to be broadcast on television and social networks, and radio spots and public address systems in commercial establishments. Also, throughout October there have been talks and information sessions for citizens and training sessions for Civil Protection volunteers, police officers and civic agents.

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Likewise, a manual for the population on how to act in a chemical emergency has been posted on the Civil Protection website and includes a tutorial so that people who have an old mobile phone can configure it to receive emergency notifications like the one that will be used in the drill. The latest devices already have the system activated by default.

Social networks

At the same time, during the drill, the exercise will be disseminated through the Civil Protection social networks and there will be two calls for the media. However, in this case, the emergency teams will not participate, since the sirens will only be activated for a few minutes and the objective is for the population to take part. The special services regularly carry out maneuvers simulating emergencies inside the petrochemical estate or in the port of Tarragona. Finally, and afterwards, citizens, companies and entities will be able to fill out a survey in which they will be able to assess the drill and detail how they have acted themselves and if they have detected any shortcomings.