Launch Of The Newly Revised Standard - Transport Of Dangerous Goods On Land

  • Jack Elder
Internal Affairs

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today and to formally launch this revised Standard for the Transport of Dangerous Goods on Land.

I am not too sure which hat is the more appropriate to wear today, that of Internal Affairs (and Minister responsible for the Fire Service) or Civil Defence.

So I've decided to wear both, metaphorically speaking that is, because they're both relevant to what we're marking today.

New Zealand, as you may be aware, has been taking a new direction in emergency management. Our challenge is to develop an emergency management structure where New Zealand citizens, communities and infrastructures are safer from the impact of emergencies and disasters; what the Fire Service calls resilient communities.

Until now, there has been no system that coordinates all the planning and resources necessary for effective emergency management. In the past, our focus has been mainly on responding to emergencies when they happen. However, by identifying and managing the hazards in our communities through a systematic risk management approach, and anticipating and preparing for events before they happen, we can reduce the effects on our communities and our daily lives. After all, itís the consequences of an event that matter, not the event itself. We cannot stop events, such as earthquakes, from happening. But we can put in place strategies and methodologies that limit or even prevent the consequences of these events on our communities.

The hazards facing our society are more complex than ever before, and we are more vulnerable to their effects. I'm not just talking about such natural hazards as earthquakes, fire, floods and volcanic eruption.

There are technological events like chemical spills which we need to guard against. Hence this newly revised standard for the transportation of dangerous goods on land.

This standard is the third edition, having been completely revised over 10 years. It is incorporated by reference in the new Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods 1999 and it reflects the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms legislation and best industry practice.

The newly revised standard is aimed at management and the person consigning the dangerous goods rather than just the truck driver. Responsibility for safety in transporting dangerous goods rests where it belongs---with those responsible. This includes senior management as well as key personnel like supervisors and drivers.

I don't need to tell you that there is an increasing need to correctly identify dangerous goods, including quality documentation, labelling and segregation requirements. With an increase of complex industrial products being transported, the need for quality-assured transport services has also increased. So, when carriers are carrying both chemicals and products such as animal feed or food for human consumption , they need to be aware of the requirements to keep the goods segregated correctly.

What may seem like a harmless load combination may be extremely hazardous in the event of an accident. Drums containing chemicals which are incorrectly identified can transform a relatively minor incident into a disaster of wider implications.

Those either consigning or carrying freight will require formal qualifications as well as experience in the future.

All of these requirements work towards making our communities safer and, as I mentioned earlier, more resilient.

Later this year I will be introducing new emergency management legislation to Parliament taking account of changes to the way we run Civil Defence. It will be designed to provide a framework within which the activities of comprehensive emergency management can operate effectively to contribute to community continuity.

The principles under which it will operate will be very similar to the way, I'm sure, those involved with the drawing up of the Standard operated.

Firstly resilience. The way the community is planned should be based on reducing the occurrence of disasters and minimising their effects, not just responding to them when they occur. Minimising the amount of vulnerability to particular hazards within the community also contributes to resilience.

The second principle is sustainability. Decisions should be made with a long term view in mind.

And thirdly holistic community management and partnerships. Management of risk at the appropriate level, with involvement of key stakeholders and accountability in decision-making to the community.

All of these things, as I said, have a direct bearing on the development of this standard.

I would like to thank all who have been involved in its development. It will, I am confident, contribute greatly to ensuring our community is safer.