Esta de Goede, Programme Manager Safety and society expected to lead an intimate breakout session with about 15 participants during the National Congress BRZO-Seveso. She planned to take stock of what questions were on the minds of ‘her’ group and then answer them using propositions. The common thread: the risks that inevitably accompany the energy and resource transition. Things ended up being completely different.
The National Congress BRZO-Seveso is the annual independent knowledge and networking platform for the entire BRZO chain. The eighth edition of the annual congress took place on 22 November 2022 in Utrecht. BRZO companies are companies where hazardous substances are handled, of which there are about 400 in the Netherlands.
The focus was on knowledge sharing, interaction and cooperation between government, inspectorates and BRZO companies. Cooperation to bring it closer to the goal of safe operation of high-risk companies and installations including their surroundings.
Esta de Goede was approached by events and training agency Outvie, who organise the annual conference, to give a talk on the theme of risks in the energy transition. This naturally fitted in perfectly with the Safety and Society programme line that Esta is associated with.
Expectation: table discussion with 15 participants
The idea was that De Goede would chair a table discussion where participants would engage in a discussion based on propositions. Beforehand, De Goede had indicated that she also wanted to discuss the raw materials transition and felt that only energy was too limited. De Goede: “Just before the break, I had to make a short pitch on the basis of which people could decide their choice of breakout session. I planned to then ask the 15 or so expected participants at the beginning about their specific questions and respond to them during my contribution.”
Reality: full room with more than 50 interested attendees
However, when the room filled up with more than 50 interested people, that plan proved untenable. “So we omitted the propositions and I just started telling why the topic is close to my heart” says De Goede. “My objective was to make it clear to people that the subject is very broad.”
Raw materials transition
De Goede took the opportunity to ask attendees whether they realise that we are also facing a resource transition. That it is not just a transition from gas to electric, but also to raw materials such as recycled plastics. And that this involves different quality requirements than we are used to now. “Everything we use now is very efficient is very stable. About how things will run in the future, there is a lot we don’t know yet. Processes will soon become less predictable in the early stages.”
In terms of the new electricity supply, De Goede also has a warning in store. “There is talk of blackouts,” she holds up to the audience. “You might just be asked as a company to temporarily buy more or less energy. Can you handle that as a company? Then you have to prepare yourself, of course.”
Although the unexpected crowds came at the expense of depth, the reactions afterwards were very good. De Goede looks back on the National Congress BRZO-Seveso with satisfaction: “The reactions were very positive. Moreover, there were a number of people who found it useful to keep in touch or make a follow-up appointment. There are just a lot of new developments coming up. If I was able to contribute to raising awareness of the extent of it, that’s excellent. Companies should not be too quick to assume that all the implications for their business processes are already known.”