Acid Leak Sparks Emergency Alert

Sulphuric Acid Leak

02.06.2008

A factory in the north of England had to be evacuated after a 500-gallon tank of sulphuric acid began to leak and chemicals entered the nearby drainage system.

Firefighters were called to the premises of Holmes Hall Tannery in Hull and were forced to direct the spillage into interceptor tanks on site.

The Environment Agency was informed about the incident after a fire brigade spokesman said there was "potential for environment damage" if the acid entered the nearby River Hull.

Officials from utility company Yorkshire Water attempted to flush the sewers with water from the river and were monitoring PH levels.

That the leak, caused by a collapse in part of the tank, was contained and the acid neutralised. Residents living near the factory were asked to keep doors and windows closed to avoid toxic fumes entering their homes.

"It was not dangerous, but there was an extremely unpleasant smell and for that reason people were asked to keep doors and windows closed," said Glenn Ramsden of the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service. "Fortunately for us it's not a densely populated area, which worked in our favour."

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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "Chemical accidents at work can pose a hazard not only to the workforce, but local residents and the environment.

"I represent many people, both workers and local residents who have been injured or killed following work accidents."

Mr Urpeth represented over 75 workers and many residents who were injured in the 2001 blast at the Killingholme refinery when over 170 tonnes of liquid petroleum gas caught fire. Conoco-Phillips, who owned the plant, was eventually fined £1m for breaching health and safety regulations after the explosion at its Humber refinery.