"Go inside, close the windows and follow the media"

The Belgian Home Office has launched a campaign in order to inform Belgians about what to do in case an industrial accident should happen. "Stay indoors, close windows and doors and follow the news on the various media", is the message.

The camapign comes at a moment when an incident happened in the Dutch city of Nijmegen. A blast rocked the Electrabel power plant, sending big plumes of steam into the sky. Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet (Francophone Christian democrat) mentioned the incident to underline the importance of the campaign.

Belgium has 382 so-called Seveso companies, plants that are posing a serious risk if something should go wrong. Seveso companies treat, manufacture or store dangerous products, often chemicals. Incidents can pose a real danger to the environment or local residents. 

Ms Milquet told a press conference that the Belgian citizens and their families are responsible for their own safety in the first place, and provided a number of guidelines to be followed when things should go wrong and the alarm is sounding. People have to go indoors, close doors and windows and follow the news on radio, TV, or the internet.

The awareness campaign should reach as many people as possible through brochures, web banners, adverts on radio and television and the website seveso.be.The minister added that a possible alarm has to reach as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. She is holding talks with mobile phone operators to investigate the possibility of sending an automatic text message to local residents only to alert them.