Kent Community Risk Register 

Medium Risks

In the context of the Kent Community Risk Register the risks outlined on this page are assessed as less significant, but may cause impacts and inconvenience in the short term. These risks should be monitored to ensure that they are being appropriately managed and consideration given to their being managed under generic emergency.

Industrial Accidents

Localised fire or explosion at a fuel distribution site

This threat includes a fire or explosion at a site where either fuel, flammable liquids, or toxic liquids are stored in bulk. Dependent on what is being stored a fire may or may not lead to an explosion, however in most circumstances the incident would lead to a plume of gases or toxic smoke. Toxic chemicals are stored in bulk form throughout the county and the larger facilities are covered by COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards). Regulations, and therefore have bespoke plans in place. There are a large number of these sites in Kent, ranging from large scale storage to small scale. Incidents at these sites could have an impact on their local communities as well as disruption to the wider community. As part of the regulations the sites and Local Authority carry out planning and awareness raising in the areas that could potentially be affected.


Onshore fuel pipeline incident

This threat includes a fire or explosion with a footprint of up to 1 kilometre around the site of the pipeline resulting in the potential for casualties and fatalities. There is likely to be a significant demand on emergency responders in the short term. There is a potential for a release of toxic gases and environmental damage, as well as the risk of contamination. In addition to the risk to life the failure of a strategically important fuel pipeline could lead to fuel shortages. The most likely causes of pipeline failure are:  A physical fault in the pipeline leading to an unexpected failure (for example through corrosion)  Exceeding the safe operating limits of the pipeline (e.g. through over pressure)  Accidental third party damage to the pipeline, for example struck by machinery during ditch clearance or excavation work. Emergency responders are aware of the location of all pipework within Kent and have plans in place to respond to any incidents that do occur, as well as plans to mitigate any disruption to the fuel supply.


Explosion at a gas pipeline

This risk regards the potential for a fire or explosion at a natural gas pipeline or gas terminal. Such an incident would require an exclusion zone for safety reasons and would substantial safety concerns. Explosion at a gas terminal or flammable gas storage sites This threat includes a fire or explosion at a gas terminal or sites where flammable gas is stored. Events at terminals are likely to be of short duration as the feed lines will be isolated, however events at storage sties could last for extended periods if the explosion damage control equipment. There will be impacts on the environment, particularly a widespread effect on air quality. The emergency services are aware of all the sites in Kent that act as gas terminals or store flammable gas and have plans to manage any issues that occur.


Accidental release of radioactive material

This risk is most likely to occur when radioactive sources or other material is disposed of incorrectly and the material is destroyed or broken in the process, e.g if a source is melted down or crushed along with scrap metal, however the majority of smelters have portal monitors to detect radioactive materials and set off an alarm to stop material being processed. Sites undertaking processes other than smelting who bring in this material unwittingly or illegal pose a significant risk. The most likely source of this radioactive material is from medical sources such as radiotherapy machines. The impact of this risk could be environmental damage to water, air, land, animal welfare, agriculture and waste management. This may require decontamination and could result in fatalities and long term health impacts.  


Biological substance release


This risk assessment relates to an accidental release of pathogens into an urban environment. Pathogens are tightly controlled and so the risk of such an incident occurring is extremely low. The assessment looks at a worst case scenario where pathogens capable of creating a human disease are released into an urban area. Such a release would be similar to the release of SARS in China, in which a small number of people died and a large number were quarantined. This type of release could lead to human and animal health risks within the Risk Register. Sites that handle these pathogens include hospitals, biotechnology factories, universities, veterinary laboratories, military research facilities, pharmaceutical research facilities and biomedical research establishments. There are rigorous control measures in place at all these sites to ensure the risk is kept to a minimum.


Biological substances release (pathogens)


This risk assessment relates to an accidental release of pathogens into an urban environment. Pathogens are tightly controlled and so the risk of such an incident occurring is extremely low. The assessment looks at a worst case scenario where pathogens capable of creating a human disease are released into an urban area. Such a release would be similar to the release of SARS in China, in which a small number of people died and a large number where quarantined. This type of release could lead to the human and animal health risks within the Rick Register. Sites that handle these pathogens include hospitals, biotechnology factories universities, veterinary laboratories, military research facilities, pharmaceutical research facilities, and bio medical research establishments. There are rigorous control measures in place at all these sites to ensure the risk is kept to a minimum.


Major food contamination incidents


This includes: 

  • Industrial accident (chemical, microbiological, nuclear) affecting food production areas. e.g Chernobyl, Sea Empress Oil Spill and animal disease. 

  • Contamination of animal feed, e.g. dioxins, BSE. 

  • Incidents arising production processes, e.g. adulteration of chilli power with Sudan I dye.


This risk assessment covers the various risk associated with contamination of the food chain, resulting in potential implications for hum health. There are a number of distribution and storage centres within Kent food production and preparation businesses, and a significant number of arable farms and livestock holding areas. Contamination of human or animal feeding stuffs could have far reaching implications for human and disposal of contaminated products and animals. Contamination could occur through various means on a local, regional, national or international scale. Such a contamination, however, is unlikely to result in an immediate risk to human health, although it may create longer term health risks. The assessment covers both accidental and deliberate contamination.


Transport accidents 


Maritime accident and blockage of a port


Kent has significant ports with the sea ports of Dover, Ramsgate, Thamesport, Sheerness, Dartford and the unique Channel Tunnel. These ports handle exclusively, or combinations, of freight and passengers. This risk considers the potential for a cumulative delay of 30 days as well as a continuous delay. Loss of a key port is likely to have an initial wider impact, this assessment considers the risks and threats from this initial impact as well as the longer term impacts although the planning assumptions expect the impacts to reduce over time as shippers seek alternative ports or methods of shipping.

Incident in road tunnel

There are five significant road tunnels within the Kent Strategic Road Network which are covered by European Tunnel Regulations. Incidents in these tunnels have the potential to cause fatalities and casualties, as well as significant disruption to the strategic road network. Such incidents could potentially involve complex rescues for the emergency services. The five tunnels within Kent are the Dartford Crossing, Medway Tunnel, Ramsgate New Harbour Approach, Round Hill Tunnel and Chestfield Tunnel.


Railway incident - Channel Tunnel

The Channel Tunnel Fixed Link is a transport system providing a fixed and permanent link between the road and rail networks of the United Kingdom and France. The system comprises rail and road systems at the terminals situated in Cheriton near Folkestone and Coquelle in Nord Pas de Calais, France. The runnel is currently operated by 'Eurotunnel' under licences issues by the governments of the UK and France. The system is effectively made up of two single track rail tunnels running in opposite directs underneath the English Channel, which link the two terminals.

The runnel allows for four categories of traffic to travel between the UK and France: 

  • Private cars and coaches, normally transported on Tourist Shuttles 

  • Commercial vehicles, lorries, and HGV's, normally transported by Freight Shuttles 

  • International passenger trains operated by private train operating companies 

  • Goods trains operated by Eurotunnel and private train operating companies.

Due to the nature of the unique tunnel environment any incident or technical failure can result in people being confined or trapped in the tunnel for long periods of time. Any incident that does occur is likely to remain within the boundaries of the terminals and tunnel, however the disruption can cause significant wider traffic issues. The safety of the Channel Tunnel is closely monitored and overseen by the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority. This is a bi-national working group that closely assesses safety and ensures appropriate safety measures are implemented and maintained. The Channel Tunnel is regularly inspected and emergency services carry out specialist training and exercising to ensure that can respond to any incidents that do occur.

Railway accident

This risk looks at the potential for a collision or incident occurring on the railway network. There are a number of variables that could case accidents to occur with past incidents coming about from a variety of sources. This assessment assumes that the incident is confined within the working boundaries of the railway network and has not significantly impacted on other premises. Such incidents can result in casualties, which will generally be confined to passengers and crew.


Aviation accident

The risk considers a worst case scenario of the collision of two commercial planes in Kent airspace. Such an incident is likely to lead to fatalities of crew and passengers, with complex casualties on the ground. Such incidents are most likely to occur during take off and landing, with damage likely to occur within the airport or airfield complex.

Major shipping incident

This risk assessment considers the sinking of a passenger vessel in, or close to UK waters (including inland waterways), leading to the ships full or partial evacuation or abandonment at sea. Passenger vessels have well rehearsed evacuation and safety procedures to ensure the safety of all on board. There is a potential for casualties among the crew and passengers, as well as the need for a complex rescue and disruption to shipping routes.

Industrial Accidents and Environmental



Kent has a number of areas of forest and moorland which could result in large fires, particularly during hot and dry conditions. Kent Fire and Rescue Service has specialist equipment to deal with these types of fire, however it would still cause a significant strain on the service, as well as environmental damage and destruction.

Major incident at DSTL Fort Halstead

DSTL Fort Halstead is a restricted site under the Official Secrets Act and is guarded by MOD civilian guards and MOD police with control room being operational at all times. The site is regulated by the MOD Major Accident Control Regulations (MACR) which are similar to COMAH, and the site has on site emergency services available. The site carries out research and investigative activity, which at times involve explosives. Operations on the site are fires, explosions, hazardous substance release (including radiation) and projected debris. The site proactively engages with the Kent Resilience Forum to ensure appropriate plans and strategies are in place.


Inland Flooding

Localised, extremely hazardous, flash flooding

The assessment considers an incident in which rivers respond rapidly to rainfall and cause flooding. The Bourne and the Pent are categorised nationally as being at 'medium' risk from flash flooding. The Shuttle, which is within the Kent County boundary is considered to be within the administrative area of London Boroughs. The rivers are monitored constantly in order to alert residents of any potential for flooding, however due to the nature of the rainfall and rapid response it is possible that a flooding event could occur with no prior warning, giving as little as 15 minutes warning time. Whilst the flooding would be likely to last less that 24 hours it would pose a significant risk to life and could cause significant damage to infrastructure.

Severe Weather



The planning for this risk is based on an unprecedented scenario if 3 consecutive dry winters. In general terms water supplies fall during the summer and are replenished over the winter. If there is insufficient rainfall during the winter then there may be shortages during the following summer. UK water stocks are sufficient to manage one dry winter with minimal intervention, albeit with publicity campaigns to save water would likely be implemented towards the end of summer. Following a second dry winter reservoir stocks would be anticipated to be very low and high level publicity campaigns would be implemented during spring.

Hosepipe bans would be introduced and additional leakage control teams would be deployed. Due to the low water levels there would be issues with fish deaths and algal blooms. At this point water companies may consider apply for a 'non-essential use ban'. This would make it illegal to wash buildings and windows.


Water companies may also apply for 'drought permits' which would allow them to abstract water from different areas and reduce flow rates through pipes. Following a third consecutive dry winter there would be substantial shortages. Further 'drought permits' may be issued allowing abstraction from protected areas, farmers may be prevented from abstracting water on their sites, and rota cuts may be introduced.


Enforcement of non-essential use would be stepped up. Rota cuts would be implemented for 'non essential' customers to priorities supplies for the public. The use of de-salinization plants (a process which removes the salt from sea water) may also be considered to provide additional supplies. All water companies have robust emergency plans in place to ensure they can continue to provide water to the public.


Land Movement

This risk refers to land movements caused by earth tremors and landslides. The geological nature of the KRF area means that significant events of these kind are extremely rare, however minor earth tremors have been known to occur. Damage could include collapsed structures and unsafe buildings, as well as severe impact on the transport system and infrastructure in the affected area. Building collapse This risk includes the collapse of buildings (including domestic, commercial etc) and may be realised for a variety of reasons. People may be trapped by the building collapse, as well as damage to local road networks and utilities.


Bridge Collapse

Kent has a large number of bridges used for road, rail and pedestrian access. Of particular note are the OEII bridge linking Kent and Essex and the Sheppey Crossing which links the Isle of Sheppey to the mainland of Kent's major road routes and having bridges at regular intervals, such as M2 bridge crossing the river Medway at Strood, which carries motorway traffic and the CTRL high speed rail link. The collapse of any bridge is likely to impact heavily on the infrastructure of Kent and will lead to transport problems and restrictions.

Major Reservoir/Dam failure or collapse

The planning for this risk is based upon a reasonable worst case scenario of a no notice failure of a reservoir or dam. Due to the nature of the event there would be no time to evacuate and emergency services would have no pre-warning. Flooding would last less than 24 hours, however water would be flowing and cause significant risk to life and damage to infrastructure. Substantial controls are in place to ensure that the likelihood of this risk occurring is very low.

Human Health

Infectious diseases

With the growth of international travel diseases which are unknown or previously eradicated in the UK can be imported from abroad. Often these infections are transmissible to others before obvious symptoms occur, meaning that they can be rapidly spread. Symptoms will vary depending on the nature of the strain. It is not possible to predict which groups will be the most affected as this will depend on this virus, however it is fair to say that potentially the whole population is susceptible.

Animal Health

Non-zoonotic notifiable animal disease

(eg Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Classical Swine Fever (CSF), Bluetongue and Newcastle Disease (of birds))


These diseases can be spread by direct and indirect contact (including being wind borne) and can lead to devastating impacts for livestock, resulting in infected and exposed animals being culled for welfare reasons. The most serious disease in this category is FMD. The assessment for this risk is based on the need to cull up to 4 million animals across Great Britain, with the whole becoming a 'controlled area', meaning that susceptible livestock will be prohibited from all movements until licensed. Although the impact of the disease will vary between areas the nature of the industry means that infected animals may have been moved to other premises before the disease is detected, resulting in widely dispersed numerous out breaks. Transmission to humans is very unlikely and would not be expected to be fatal.

Zoonotic notifiable animal disease

(eg Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), Rabies and West Nile Virus) These are diseases which predominantly affect animals, but can also be transmitted to humans. Transmission is though direct contact, most commonly through water, feed, faeces and bites. Although the impact of a disease outbreak will vary between areas, the likelihood of a disease incursion cannot be differentiated between areas. These diseases can be spread by migratory birds as well as other sources. If introduced into a domestic population it is likely that the flock will require culling. Vaccination tends to be ineffective against an outbreak due to the time taken for the immunity to develop. This risk assessment is made against a reasonable worst case scenario of culling up to 30 million poultry, plus the possibility of wildlife being affected (most likely by Rabies). For West Nile virus it is reasonable to assume up to 1000 horses could need to be slaughtered.

Industrial Action

Industrial action by critical workers

This risk covers industrial action by emergency services personnel, social care staff, and NHS Medical, nursing and healthcare professionals. However, it must be recognised that industrial action by ancillary staff in those sectors and in unrelated sectors such as educations are likely to lead to difficulties in delivering the normal standard of service by statutory agencies.


The following key points need to be noted in relation to this risk: 

  • Police Officers are prevented by law from taking strike actions - however police support staff (such as the 999 control room) are not and actin by these support staff can impact front line services. 

  • Industrial action by the Fire and Rescue Service is covered in a separate risk assessment below. As with the Police some Fire and Rescue staff are not covered by the Fire Brigade Union. These staff are covered within this risk assessment. 

  • NHS and Social Care staff have historically elected to 'work to rule' rather than withdraw labour in services critical to life. The NHS is particularly vulnerable to the knock on effects of industrial action in other areas, such as education. 

  • Any action by Maritime & Coastguard Agency will have the potential to compromise coastguard rescue services. 

  • 'Wild-cat' strikes (where workers withdraw their labour without a lawful ballot) are illegal and can result in disciplinary actin and dismissal. These are historically very rare within the UK. 

  • The activities of Trade Unions are regulated strictly by the Trade Union Act 1992.


Emergency Services have well tested plans in place to ensure critical services are maintained, however the public may experience some reduction in service, particularly for lower priority calls.

Strike action by prison officers


This risk covers the potential for prison officers to take part in illegal strike action. Prisons would become reliant on small number of staff (typically senior level grades) operating the prison on a reduced regime. Plans are in place to parachute additional support via alternative means, albeit it is likely that prisoner movements would be restricted to reduce the need for staff. Restrictions put in place on prisoner movements would have an effect on court activity and potentially increase the risk of disturbances and lack of discipline within the prison. In the most extreme cases the Police could be used to maintain order.


Technically industrial action by prison officers is unlawful, meaning that the normal periods for giving notice and balloting members would be necessarily be apparent. The prison sector is made up of public and private sector operations, means that industrial action is unlikely to affect the entire industry. 

  • Prison officers in public sector are prevented by law from taking strike actions - however they have historically taken illegal 'wild-cat' action on other occasions. 

  • 'Wild-cat' strikes (where workers withdraw their labour without a lawful ballot) are illegal and can result in disciplinary action and dismissal. 

  • The activities of Trade Unions are regulated strictly by the Trade Union Act 1992.


There are well tested plans in place to ensure prisons and inmates remain safe and it is unlikely the wider public will notice any difference. There may, however, be disruptions to some services, such as the courts and prison visits.