In court - toxic vapour releases cost Grimsby company £3m

30th November 2016

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  • Business & Industry ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Chemicals ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Air


Lucy Young

A chemical company has been fined £3m for twice releasing a toxic vapour, which on the first occasion killed one worker and left another with life-changing injuries.

The fatal incident was on 5 March 2010 at the Grimsby plant of Cristal Pigment UK (formerly Millennium Inorganic Chemicals) after a build-up of titanium tetrachloride in a vessel came into contact with water, causing an explosion. After being released into the air the liquid formed a large cloud that blanketed Paul Doyley and his colleague, Ron Ingoldby. Doyley, who was also showered with the corrosive liquid, died 13 days later. Ingoldby survived but has irreversible lung damage.

The vapour escaped into the atmosphere and was blown across the River Humber, closing shipping lanes for several hours. Humberside Fire and Rescue Service brought the incident under control.

A second release of the same gas came on 27 July 2011 while a redundant vessel was being cleaned.

An investigation into the first incident by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had deviated from its normal operating procedures, which led to the dangerous build-up of the chemical.

Parts of the plant and its procedures were poorly designed, the regulator said. The firm had not established robust safety management procedures and systems of work to assess and control risk.

The second incident was also due to poor management as well as the design and installation of plates to seal the vessel before cleaning started. The HSE said the plates were incompatible and incorrectly designed, and the firm had used inadequate sealants that could not contain the gas created during the procedure.


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