Government decontamination service formally opens

The Government's new Decontamination service formally opened this week, offering expert advice and guidance to decontaminate buildings and the environment after chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents.

The service will work with all relevant authorities during their contingency planning for such incidents and regularly help to test the arrangements that are in place.

It will also assess the ability of private sector companies to carry out decontamination services as well as advising central government on the national capability for decontamination of buildings and the environment.

Margaret Beckett, Environment Secretary confirmed in July that the service would be set up, with Robert Bentley Smith as Chief Executive (see related story).

In the first seven months of operation the new service should have put into place the first framework for contractors with specialist suppliers who have CBRN decontamination expertise as well as defined its role and response arrangements.

A database of contaminants will be created along with their effects and relevant decontamination techniques.

The service has been set up as part of the cross-government work to ensure the UK is prepared for a range of emergencies, developed under the CBRN Resilience Programme led by the Home Office.

By David Hopkins

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