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Within the framework of Responsible Care®, the chemical industry makes every effort to transport goods to and from its manufacturing sites and storage locations safely and in full compliance with relevant regulations and codes of practice. In the event of an incident, the chemical industry will provide information, practical help and, if necessary and possible, appropriate equipment to the competent emergency authorities in order to minimise any adverse effects.

ICE (Intervention in Chemical transport Emergencies) is a co-operative programme, set up by the European chemical industry to achieve this goal. In each European country, it seeks to create a framework for providing assistance in an effective way:

  • by making use of the emergency response schemes of individual chemical companies;

  • by building on existing emergency response schemes - local, regional and product-related (bromine, isocyanates, ethylene oxide, titanium tetrachloride);

  • by co-operating with national authorities through the National Chemical Federation;

  • by promoting mutual assistance within the chemical industry.

Each national ICE scheme applies only to distribution incidents (i.e. those that occur outside manufacturing sites) and is formalised in a protocol between the national chemical industry federation and the national competent authorities.


A national ICE scheme is a voluntary initiative, normally open to all manufacturers and distributors of chemical products. It is administrated by a National Scheme Administrator, usually the national chemical industry federation, which keeps a register of participating members and arranges for financial contributions. Up-to-date information on available assistance is communicated promptly to the national competent authorities.



Participation in a national emergency scheme is voluntary but requires a company's commitment to provide help in land-based distribution incidents on the request of the competent authorities. Depending on the capabilities and resources of a company, there are three possible levels of intervention:

  • Level 1: remote product information and general advice by telephone or email

  • Level 2: advice from an expert at the scene of an incident

  • Level 3: assistance with personnel/equipment at the scene of an incident.

Such a commitment applies firstly to products manufactured by the company itself and is normally incorporated into the company's own distribution emergency response scheme. The emergency services may also require advice or help if the product supplier is not known or cannot be contacted. In such cases, companies may offer assistance on the basis of a prior arrangement with the national ICE scheme. However, safeguarding their own site facilities takes priority over Level 2 and Level 3 intervention.

The ultimate responsibility for any intervention at the scene of emergency remains with the competent emergency authorities.

The key document in the protocol between the competent national authorities and the chemical industry (represented by the national chemical federation) is the list of participating companies. This provides details of each participant such as address, telephone number, email, range of products (hazardous products are identified by the four-digit UN numbers), time availability, intervention equipment and area of intervention (if limited). It normally includes a map, showing the location of the participating companies so that the competent authorities can contact the site nearest to the transport accident.



Member companies of several Cefic sector groups or affiliated organisations have set up schemes for mutual assistance in transport accidents involving specific products. These schemes complement the existing national ICE schemes by focusing on substances requiring specialised intervention procedures or equipment. They can be triggered by a member company as well as by the ICE network.

  • Titanium tetrachloride

  • Diisocyanates

  • Bromine

  • Ethylene oxide

  • Acrylonitrile

MAR-ICE (maritime)

Building on the success of the land-based chemical transport emergency response program, Cefic, in close cooperation with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the Centre of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution (Cedre), created the MAR-ICE Network in 2008. MAR-ICE enables Member State authorities to turn to the chemical industry for product-specific information and expert advice, on chemicals involved in maritime emergencies, remotely or directly at the command center of the requesting country. The service is available to national administrations 24/7 via a dedicated contact point.

More explanation can be found in the "EMSA MAR-ICE leaflet 2020".

The webinar here below explains the tripartite agreement between European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the Centre of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution (Cedre) and Cefic. It highlights the specific challenges of maritime compared to land-based incidents and bring together perspectives from users and providers of the service.

MAR-ICE: industry-authorities collaboration in maritime incidents, 16th September 2021



Safety data sheets (SDS) are the main source of information. Participating companies therefore ensure that SDS for their own products are accessible at all times at the locations identified as company contacts in the national ICE scheme.
To provide initial advice, the National ICE Centres have a series of reference books or databases or may have access to a set of SDS.
In 1993, Cefic published a guidance document on the use of SDS: “Distribution Emergency Response - Guide to use safety data sheets”.

In 1995, Cefic, with international group of chemists and firefighters and the financial support from the European Commission, also developed the “Emergency Response Intervention Cards” (ERICards). The ERICards provide guidance on initial actions for fire crews when they first arrive at the scene of a chemical transport accident without having appropriate and reliable product specific emergency information at hand. To learn more and search the ERICard database, visit



The following chart illustrates the typical flow of response in transport emergencies. However, each country can adapt the operation of a national ICE scheme according to its own specific needs and practices already in place.



Before providing assistance or advice in distribution incidents involving their own products, chemical companies should confirm with their insurers that their policies cover any potential claims that may arise from such involvement.
Companies which may be involved in giving assistance or advice relating to other manufacturers’ products should notify their insurers specifically of this fact and obtain confirmation that their general public liability policy will provide cover for these activities. This should not lead to increases in premiums.
In 1994, Cefic published a brochure, “Distribution Emergency Response - Legal and financial aspects of mutual assistance between companies”.



In order to provide competent assistance, responders in the National ICE Centre or in a company must meet a number of minimum requirements, either by experience or by training. These have been agreed within the chemical industry and are described in a Cefic publication of 1993: “Distribution Emergency Response - Guidelines for use by the chemical industry”.
In 2018, Cefic and NCEC have developed best practice guidelines for level 1 telephone emergency response.



Depending on chemical manufacturers in the country, not all UN numbers are covered in all countries. Therefore, the necessity of having a European ICE network, facilitating the liaison between the different National ICE Centres.



The focal point of a national ICE scheme is the ICE National Centre which the emergency authorities can call:

  • when the supplier cannot be contacted;

  • when an incident happens to international movements necessitating contact with National ICE Centres in other countries;

  • when mutual assistance needs to be mobilised within the national ICE scheme;

  • when the product or the producing company cannot be readily identified.

When called by the authorities, the National ICE Centre will provide, in the local language, initial telephone advice for the immediate control of the incident. It will promptly alert the producing company, obtain further information (possibly via other National ICE Centres) or mobilise mutual assistance. To do this, the centre has at its disposal appropriate communication equipment, a library of reference books or databases and up to date lists of telephone and email addresses for contacts within the chemical industry.

The centre is manned 24 hours a day by at least one person who, in addition to the local language(s), can also speak English to facilitate communication between the National ICE Centres.




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