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Stowmarket: PPG bosses apologises over chemical spills warnings

22:32 06 February 2013

Andrew Coxhead, process safety manager for PPG Industries, Stowmarket, addresses members of the public.

Andrew Coxhead, process safety manager for PPG Industries, Stowmarket, addresses members of the public.

Archant

ANGRY homeowners expressed concern about a paint firm’s safety practices last night following two chemical spills in the space of three days last year.

Bosses from PPG Industries UK Ltd, based in Needham Road, Stowmarket, were forced to apologise at a public meeting after complaints about a lack of warning about the incidents.

Dozens of fire crews attended the chemical spills – of a solvent chemical and a hazardous liquid – in January last year which have since been investigated.

One person at the meeting said she was concerned about her husband’s health as he was working at the nearby Muntons factory on January 15, 2012, the day of the second spill which happened at about 2pm.

She said: “My main problem was, my husband is diabetic. On the day he was having his injection at about 5.45pm.

“We found about the incident at 2.30pm but my husband is not allowed a mobile phone on site. I could not get a message to him telling him not to have his insulin.

“He needs to eat within half an hour of the injection. I started to get quite worried, I knew he would soon be finishing.

“He was not allowed off the site. I was absolutely frantic, I could not get a message to him. He checked his phone just before he had his injection so he knew not to do it.” Last night other people also complained about not being able to hear a siren which sounded to warn after the spills.

Pedro Perez, site manager for PPG, where 385 people work, said: “I can only apologise for what happened last year. On the weekday the situation was manageable, but on the Sunday, I must admit it was difficult for everyone.

“I can only apologise for that. At the end of the day it’s an opportunity to improve Sunday’s communication.”

Andrew Coxhead, PPG’s process safety manager, said: “We had meetings with local businesses, including Muntons. What we recognised after this incident is that we had not set up full communication groups.

“I had the contact details but it did not grant 24-hour communication. We always want to improve, we held subsequent meetings with some businesses and set up a system which gives contact with all the local businesses.

“If we had an incident we would be able to get hold of them to keep them up dated.”

Mr Coxhead also said the siren would now sound more often during the first 30 minutes of an incident.

He said the firm had identified everything that could happened in an incident and had safety procedures in place, including automatic sprinklers, fire walls and their own fire tender.

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