Chemical waste treatment

A number of incidents have been reported to HSE and the Environment Agency which occurred during the storage, handling and transport of chemical waste, caused by unintentional or inadequately planned mixing of incompatible chemicals, or in some cases by the decomposition of thermally unstable substances. The incidents occurred, in particular, at waste producer sites (such as the chemical industry), and also at waste-treatment sites and during transport.  

The incidents ranged from relatively minor explosions in drums to major releases of hazardous chemicals.  The effects included fires, explosions, chemical releases and drums rocketing off-site. In some cases employees were killed, in others large numbers of people were evacuated from the surrounding area and the incidents led to environmental effects, such as contamination of the watercourse.

This page contains guidance for the waste treatment industry on the precautions that can be carried out to prevent such incidents and, in particular, the tests that should be carried out to determine the compatibility of such substances. This guidance has been produced jointly with the Environment Agency.

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Updated 2023-05-03