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Investigation Needed After Cornwall Chemical Spill

Pennygillam Industrial Estate Cordoned Off As Firefighters Contain Spillage


By Dave Grimshaw

Lawyers are calling for an urgent investigation into the cause of a chemical spill in Launceston, Cornwall, which required 40 firefighters to bring under control.

A 50m area around the Pennygillam Industrial Estate has been cordoned off and roads closed as the authorities battle to contain the unconfirmed chemical.

Several fire engines and a specialist decontamination unit from Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service were at the scene. Local media are reporting that two people were left injured, while some of the firefighters were wearing gas-tight suits whilst attempting to contain the chemical.

David Urpeth, a specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, has represented many people who have suffered serious health problems as a result of exposure to harmful and hazardous chemical substances at work.

He notably acted for 75 workers and residents injured in the 2001 explosion at the Killingholme refinery, one of the largest chemical disasters in the UK. Conoco-Phillips, which owned the plant, was fined £1m for safety failings in relation to the incident.

Urpeth commented: “There are serious risks when working in close proximity to harmful chemicals, gases and fumes, but there are stringent guidelines and regulations in place to ensure a high standard of health and safety.

“This incident raises some questions about how an unconfirmed chemical needing specialist decontamination could have been released and we hope that the authorities in Cornwall will now work with the emergency services to ensure that once the spillage is contained, answers can be provided as to how these problems emerged.

“In order to improve health and safety standards further it is vital that information is gathered and shared as soon as possible so that any lessons can be learned.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise related to Environmental and Health Pollutant claims.