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Control measure

Containment: Cryogenic materials

Control measure knowledge

Once released from containment there is no way to return cryogenic materials to their containers. The cryogenic liquid will absorb heat from its surroundings, enabling gas to form or boil. High concentrations of gas can lead to depleted or enriched oxygen atmospheres and flammable vapours at hazardous concentrations.

The only options to re-establish a safe atmosphere are to disperse or contain the gases that have already evaporated and/or prevent the release of any further cryogenic liquid.

See Hazard – Flammable vapours (unignited) for further information.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Provide procedures and support arrangements regarding the hazards that may be encountered and actions to take to manage releases of cryogenic materials

  • Ensure that personnel have access to subject matter experts with a thorough understanding of the specific hazards presented by cryogenic materials

  • Consider providing access to appropriate monitoring equipment to assist with managing cryogenics materials

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Attempt to contain the spill or release of any cryogenic substances as close to the source as possible

  • Consider using appropriate monitoring equipment for cryogenic materials

  • Establish whether any infrastructure is in contact with the cryogenic liquid and any impact on its integrity

  • Consider using water to freeze a small, slow leak if there are no water reactivity issues

  • Consider dispersing cryogenic gases using water sprays

  • Consider covering the cryogenic liquid pool (e.g. using a tarpaulin or foam)

  • For liquid oxygen spills, determine the potential flammability of the mixture of materials