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Chemical behaviour studies

Cedre conducts studies on the behaviour of chemicals at sea. The results of these tests can be used to define the most appropriate response techniques to be implemented as well as the safety measures to be complied with during response operations.

The aim of chemical behaviour studies is to predict the evolution of a substance in real conditions and to assess the transformation of its physical and chemical properties. At Cedre, these experiments are conducted on a pilot scale to provide as realistic an assessment as possible.

 

Background to behaviour studies

The risk of spills of Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) continues to be a concern due to the expanding chemical shipping sector, new shipping routes used (Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route accessible earlier in the year) and the current economic situation which does not support investment in ship maintenance. To be able to respond to emergency situations, knowledge of the fate of the substances involved is crucial in order to manage the related risks (for responders, local inhabitants and the environment) and to adapt the techniques to be deployed. For instance, the risk of harmful or explosive clouds forming in the air or potential changes in the state of the surface slick should be known and foreseen.

Currently this fate is determined based on theoretical knowledge using the Standard European Behaviour Classification (SEBC, defined by the Bonn Agreement, 1994) which offers an initial indication of the behaviour of substances based on their physical and chemical properties. This results in a behaviour forecast solely based on laboratory tests which do not take into account the influences of environmental factors such as water salinity, temperature, surface agitation, wind and sun. Nor do they consider competition between the different phenomena which characterise this behaviour (dissolution, evaporation, etc.), or the intrinsic reactivity of the substance such as its explosive character or polymerisation capacity.