Second generation decontamination: if, or rather when the Civil Contingencies Bill becomes law it has been suggested that it will have the effect of putting the country on a permanent state of alert. It will produce a national civil defence structure geared up to deal with what a senior Government official has characterised as "low probability high impact events".(Mass Decontamination)

Although it is true that the emphasis of the 200m [pounds sterling] that Government is proposing to spend developing this system over the next two years will be spent upstream (on preventative technology--high tech radiological, biological and chemical detectors for instance), downstream is still extremely important, and this includes of course mass decontamination technology.

It is an interesting fact that history demonstrates that the situation always brings forth the technology to handle a particular situation. As an example the Spitfire was developed just in time to win the Battle of Britain. The bi-planes that until months before it had made up the core of the RAF would certainly not have been tip to the new situation.


So it is with decontamination technology The second generation is now here and the first generation, based mainly on inflatable decon showers, will no longer be the cornerstone of major-incident mass decontamination operations.

Of course they will remain the ideal answer, for many years to come, to the smaller decontamination incident--the RTA and the Hazmat event. Relative low-cost, speed of erection and ease of movement all ensure the inflatable has its place in the decontamination armoury for years to come. It does have its drawbacks however.

The main one is that you simply cannot make an inflatable large enough to successfully handle the kind of biological or chemical incident that the civil defence planners are now preparing for. …

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