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Major industrial accident

Phenomenon

Major industrial accident

A major industrial accident is a sudden, unexpected event involving dangerous materials (release of toxic materials, explosion, thermal radiation) with serious consequences for the public, property and the environment outside the site.

Source : Conseil pour la réduction des accidents industriels majeurs (CRAIM)

Preparing and protecting yourself

Risks in Montreal

The Montreal agglomeration has three major industrial hubs: eastern Montreal, LaSalle and Saint-Laurent. On the island of Montreal, some 50 facilities are subject to federal Environmental Emergency Regulations. These industries have products that could affect public health in the event of a major industrial accident. In Montréal, people living near such industries have never been involved in such an accident, and this type of event is extremely rare.

Aménagement des industriesMontreal’s urban context means that industrial zones border residential and commercial zones, which, in these sectors, means there would be major risks if there were an industrial accident.

Main risks of industrial accidents, their effects and consequences

EventsEffectsPossible consequences
Fire
  • Heat release (radiation)
  • Burns

 

Explosion
  • Shock wave (overpressure)
  • Heat release (radiation)
  • Projection of fragments
  • Internal lesions on lungs and eardrums
  • Injuries from debris projection (tank fragments, shattered glass, collapsing structures, etc.)
  • Burns
Emission of a toxic cloud
  • Respiratory or cutaneous poisoning
  • Nausea
  • Irritation of eyes and skin
  • Asphyxia
  • Increased blood pressure
  • etc.

Source (adapted from the CMMIC-EM site and the CRAIM guide)

Impacts on the public and infrastructures

Flammable products

Many flammable products are used in commercial or industrial facilities, including gasoline, propane, natural gas and diesel. In the event of a fire, thermal radiation could have dire consequences for human beings, plants, animals and buildings

There is also a risk of explosion with flammable products. An explosion could harm human beings, plants, animals and buildings, but in this case, the cause of the damage could be thermal radiation, the effect of pressure (over pressure) or projection of fragments. 

The following video shows the explosion of a tank of liquid gas which was heated by a flame, known as a BLEVE (boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion).

Watch BLEVE video

Toxic products

The most commonly used toxic products in Montréal facilities are chlorine and ammonia. The consequences of a toxic product leak for the public vary, depending on the concentration and toxicity of the product.

Preventive measures

The risk of an industrial accident is very real in Montreal, but their infrequency is due to industries’ security barriers.

For example:

Noeud papillon

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  • Staff maintenance and training programs
  • Safety devices such as valves
  • Computerized control systems
  • Safety audits
  • Emergency measures plans
  • etc.

Emergency workers, and especially specialized fire safety teams, are trained to respond efficiently in the event of an industrial accident. An alert siren is in place in eastern Montreal if a toxic leak should occur in industries such as Interquisa and Marsulex (see Public Alert section).

Land-use development can also ensure proper distance between industries and the public.

Risk communication: Joint industry-municipality committees

Joint industry-municipality committees are opportunities for discussion and collaboration for municipal and industrial employees, residents and other partners whose objective is to promote healthy coexistence between industrial and residential zones. These committees work to reduce the risks of a major industrial accident, improve preparedness of all stakeholders and effectively communicate risks to the population.

Important Numbers

Health Info
8-1-1
Transports Québec
5-1-1
City information
3-1-1
Emergencies
9-1-1

Poison center

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