A chemical fire that caused major local disruption - issue 257

Issue Number: 257


A major fire occurred at a hazardous waste facility in July 2007. It started at just after 6 o’clock in the morning in an open area used to store drums of hazardous chemical waste. More than 132,000 litres (probably in the region of 100 tonnes) of hazardous waste chemicals were involved in a conflagration that sent drums and battery cells rocketing into the air. Some of them travelled beyond the boundaries of the site. Two people were on site at the time but were not harmed. Because of the fear that smoke and fumes might affect them, two nearby motorways were closed for about four hours, causing major disruption, and local schools were closed and evacuated. In this article, the causes of the accident, its consequences, and the measures put in place as a result, are all highlighted and discussed.

IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).