Expansion warning after leak at port

A CORROSIVE quayside chemical leak has sparked fears that expanding an Essex port could be like playing "Russian Roulette" with residents' health.Firefighters from Dovercourt, Colchester and Manningtree were called to Harwich International Port yesterdayafter a drum containing a corrosive dye was punctured as it was being moved.

A CORROSIVE quayside chemical leak has sparked fears that expanding an Essex port could be like playing "Russian Roulette" with residents' health.

Firefighters from Dovercourt, Colchester and Manningtree were called to Harwich International Port yesterdayafter a drum containing a corrosive dye was punctured as it was being moved.

The 30-litre drum was part of a lorry load parked at Parkeston Quay ready to be placed on board a ship.

When fire crews arrived just after 8am they found the chemical mixture leaking from the trailer's underside.


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Wearing chemical protection suits, they managed to isolate the damaged container and place it in an over-sized drum well away from passengers to make it safe.

A spokesman for port operators Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd, which recently dismissed safety fears arising from its plan to build a new deep-water container terminal at Bathside Bay, said the public was not in danger yesterday.

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Paul Davey said: "This was in an isolated part of the port well away from any activity and there has been no ill-effect on the environment.

"All our procedures were followed correctly and we are now working with the haulier and shipping agents to see what happened."

But campaigners opposed to the proposals for Bathside Bay yesterday said the incident highlighted the risk people living near the port face.

Jenni Meredith, spokeswoman for RAPE (Residents Against Port Expansion), said: "If Bathside goes ahead, we are going to have far more ships and far more lorries like this.

"The more ships you have, the bigger the probability these incidents will occur - it's like playing Russian Roulette with our health.

"Harwich is a natural amphitheatre, so if something big does happen we're in a lot of danger."

Essex Fire and Rescue Service divisional officer Bill Seccombe, who attended the incident with Dovercourt firefighters, praised the port's health and safety management for their "excellent liaison".

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