Chemical firm fined £10k for toxic gas cloud

28th November 2011


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  • Manufacturing ,
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  • Corporate fine ,
  • Prosecution

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IEMA

A UK chemicals manufacturer has been fined £10,000 after process failures at its Tyneside factory resulted in the release of a cloud of toxic gas.

Industrial Chemicals pleaded guilty to two breaches of its environment permit, admitting that in September 2010, poor controls and the failure of staff to follow set procedures, allowed an estimated 194 litres of nitrogen oxide to escape from its Hebburn plant.

The highly-toxic and corrosive gas leaked into the atmosphere for 30 minutes before the factory was shut down, resulting in emission levels of 586mg per cubic metre, almost three-times the legal limit.

Peter Duffy, regulatory officer at the Environment Agency, said the company was lucky the weather conditions had prevented the cloud from causing real harm.

“This was a potentially serious incident, and had the prevailing wind been in a different direction, it could have been much worse,” he said.

“The company failed to follow its site procedures which resulted in the incident. Operating procedures are there to ensure that plants like this don’t cause any harm to the public or the environment.”

Since the incident, the firm has been worked with the Environment Agency to improve procedures at the site to prevent such a release occurring again.

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