Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service deal with major incident after chemical leak in Trafford Park

First published in News

A CHEMICAL leak in Trafford Park was contained by the coordinated efforts of company staff and emergency services working at the scene.

Fire officers worked with specialists on the Chemtura Manufacturing site in Tenax Road to contain the hydrochloric acid leak.

Two fire crews were initially sent to the scene with an operational support unit (OSU) after being alerted shortly after 6pm last Friday and firefighters were faced with a significant plume of toxic and corrosive gas.

Within minutes, the fire service declared a major incident which required 10 fire engines at the site immediately, an aerial platform and a further five fire engines on standby at the nearest fire station – Stretford.

Cordons were put in place as a precautionary measure.

Group manager Steve Thomas, a hazardous materials officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), said: “It appears that an event occurred during the process where two chemicals come together. As a result of this combination, a hydrochloric acid vapour escaped through a stack pipe.

“Because the gas cloud had the potential to drift across Trafford Park, our main aim was to dissipate the vapour and ensure that it didn’t spread beyond the site. To do this we used a ground monitor to get a fine spray of water on from one side of the site and an aerial platform to get water spray on from the other side.

“The vapour is absorbed into the water and it falls to the ground as water droplets. It then goes into a water catchment area on the site to ensure that the acid water doesn’t contaminate any other areas or water in the environment.”

At the same time, firefighters in gas tight suits wearing breathing apparatus, along with site engineers, went into the site up to the fifth floor where the incident occurred to bring it under control.

After liaising with site supervisors and the on site chemist, GMFRS deemed the area safe at about 2.30am on Saturday, November 17, and the scene was left with Chemtura.

Mr Thomas added: “This was a major incident for GMFRS which required a great deal of resources to manage. We have processes in place for dealing with these kinds of incidents and regularly hold exercises at sites dealing with chemicals such as Chemtura to prepare as much as possible for incidents of this nature.”

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