National Petroleum (NP) and neighbouring companies in collaboration with the Office of Disaster Management, the Fire and Ambulance Services and the Police Department conducted an evacuation drill on Friday.
The purpose of the drill was to observe safety protocols and evaluate the businesses' individual and collective responses to a disaster in the area.
Retired police officer, Nicholas George explained to reporters on Friday the importance of conducting the exercise in the Canefield area.
“The National Petroleum Company probably has the largest bulk quantity of fuel in the tank farm. There are about eleven businesses in that vicinity. The storage capacity there is probably in excess of 300,000 gallons of fuel inclusive of jet fuel. Also, it is fronted or bounded by the E O Leblanc Highway, the main artery into the city of Roseau from the north. So, we can well imagine if an incident were to occur [or] a major fire were to occur, what an impact it would have on the State. Therefore the State must partner with these people that are here, to come up with the appropriate plans. So we no longer just plan to plan but we must put the plan into action,” George explained.
Friday’s exercise formed part of NP's Hazard Awareness and Safety Week programme. Heskeith Brumant is Dominica’s Terminal Manager at National Petroleum. He spoke with GIS news following the morning exercise.
“The last time we had the exercise in 2008 the response time for the Fire Department was ten minutes. This time around it took seven minutes, so there was an improvement in the response time... The planning started about a month ago coordinated by the Office of Disaster Management. There was a planning session with all the parties involved and in that light I would like to thank all the neighbouring communities who participated. There was a planning meeting two weeks ago and we had constant debriefing with the staff and the Office of Disaster Management.”
Patrickson Albert is Assistant Superintendent of Police assigned to the Traffic Department. He shared his assessment of the exercise.
He stated, “We got the first call at 9:37am and within ten minutes... the task force was on the ground. [The force] had the people [assembled] and secured the area. In the ideal [situation], the people of the area should be a mile away [because] this is a very volatile area with all these tanks. I think the vehicles [should be stopped as far back as] Ravine Cork and the Old Mill area.”