Evacuation after chemical spill

AN internal investigation is underway after employees at a distribution and warehousing company had to be evacuated following a spillage of explosive chemicals.

AN internal investigation is underway after employees at a distribution and warehousing company had to be evacuated following a spillage of explosive chemicals.

The accident, which happened yesterday at Lansdowne Distribution Ltd on the East Anglian Freight Terminal of Felixstowe Dock, left several workers in need of medical treatment after inhaling vapours.

A total of 25 firefighters were called to the incident at 9.20am and around 35 members of staff had to be evacuated from the premises for their own safety.

Suffolk police were forced to close nearby Parkers Road until midday and stack HGVs up along Anzani Avenue as emergency services shut down the site to clear up the spill.


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Stuart Gosling, managing director of Lansdowne Distribution Ltd, said the company was carrying out an internal investigation to try and work out what had happened.

He continued: “It would be nice to think that accidents such as these never happen but we live in the real world and they do occur from time to time. However, we have done nothing wrong and handled the situation in accordance to health and safety procedures.

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“The measure of the issue is really how well you respond to an incident such as this and everybody here did extremely well and dealt with it in the right way by contacting the fire service immediately and making sure that staff were safe and the area secure.”

The chemical involved, which had leaked from a 45 gallon drum, was tetrahydrofuran and it is both flammable and a risk to health if inhaled.

It is believed the substance, a colourless liquid, is used as a commercial solvent and, should a fire have occurred, toxic gases and vapours could have been released.

Fire crews from Felixstowe, Ipswich and the operational support unit from Haverhill attended the scene and made the area safe by absorbing the substance into an inert material before it was placed in a container for disposal.

An East Anglian Ambulance Service spokeswoman later confirmed a total of seven people had been treated at the scene for minor respiration problems.

“We had four vehicles attend the incident and convey some patients to Ipswich Hospital,” she added.

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