In order to act more decisively in case of an environmental incident, a policy support team that can quickly provide advice is desirable.
Responding to environmental incidents requires quick advice that takes the various factors involved and the impact on people, animals, the environment and food safety into account as much as possible. The former Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment formed the Policy Support Team for Environmental Incidents (BOT-mi) in 2005. BOT-mi is an interdepartmental group of experts that provides advice following the occurrence of environmental incidents. The team's advice is preferably based on the integrated assessment of the opinions of various institutes that can in some situations be contradictory.
RIKILT, which is part of Wageningen UR, contributes via the group of experts to:
- the optimisation of the organisation of BOT-mi
- the provision of joint advice on the risks resulting from environmental incidents
- the provision of joint advice on possible measures
- the expansion of knowledge on specific types of incidents in order to optimise future advice
The way in which BOT-mi is organised is continually developing. An example of this is the work carried out on the optimisation of the integrated website (ICAWEB). In addition, BOT-mi takes part in exercises and gives advice when incidents occur.
In a separate project, RIKILT conducts analyses by order of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (via the MOD). Depending on the type of incident, RIKILT performs a limited number of additional analyses in order to obtain more insight into the substances formed in fires and that form a potential risk to people and animals. This also involves the use of bioassays to detect any as yet unknown contaminants.
BOT-mi consists of a group of experts that can advise local government authorities following environmental incidents and fires. In order to carry out its role, the organisation must run and prepare optimally for incidents. This is accomplished through regular consultations, training courses and exercises. When incidents occur, advice regarding the situation is given in conjunction with other partners. In addition, a number of analyses can be carried out via this project to determine whether harmful substances have entered the food chain.