Brewery Evacuated After Chemical Spill

Chemical Exposure at Work

14.05.2008

A chemical spill at a brewery in Suffolk required the site to rapidly evacuated.

Around 200 litres of detergent containing acid leaked from a container at the Greene King brewery in Bury St Edmonds, requiring 30 firefighters to bring the situation under control.

A decontamination unit was set up and specially-trained firefighters in gas-tight chemical suits moved in.

It was three hours before they declared the scene to be safe, having cleared the acid for disposal by the Environment Agency.

Steve Magnall, brewing and distribution director at Greene King, said: "Everything was cleared quickly and efficiently; at no point was anyone in danger; and there was no risk of contamination of the beer.

"Although we are still investigating, we have already established the measures we, and our suppliers, need to take to avoid any recurrences."

Greene King's base in the centre of Bury St Edmunds dates back to 1799 when Benjamin Greene founded a brewery.

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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "Chemical accidents pose a risk to workers and residents. Those operating sites involving chemicals have a duty to protect people from the dangers of illness or death following exposure.

"Chemical incidents creating industrial accidents can have devastating consequences for employees and members of the public.

"Some chemicals can cause long term problems whilst others have a more immediate effect. In this case, the chemicals involved have not been published.

"Anyone who believers they have been affected by this incident should seek legal advice.

"I represent many people who have been injured or killed following industrial incidents."

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.