Eleven Saltney workers in hospital after breathing in toxic fumes


Romilly Scragg

AT least 11 employees went to hospital yesterday after inhaling toxic fumes after a chemical incident at a foods factory.

A major incident response was sparked at English Provender Company (EPC) on River Lane, Saltney, yesterday morning after two cleaning agents were mixed, releasing dangerous gas.

A dozen people were thought to have been exposed to the noxious gas. The staff affected were “decontaminated” before being taken to hospital in Chester.

Some were seen coughing as they waited for an ambulance at about 11.30am.

Others were taken to emergency vehicles wearing paper suits.

Some of the casualties had experienced respiratory tract irritation and were given oxygen at the scene, the Welsh Ambulance Trust said.

EPC confirmed an investigation into the incident has been launched.

“The emergency services were requested to attend as per company procedure and the incident was contained within the facility,” a company statement said.

“One member of staff was admitted to hospital as a precautionary measure and a further 10 have attended voluntarily. The circumstances surrounding the incident are currently under investigation.”

Emergency services were called shortly after 9.30am yesterday morning to reports of a chemical leak at the factory.

Fire crews from Chester, Deeside, Wrexham and Buckley, the Incident Response Unit from Deeside and the Environmental Protection Unit from Wrexham were sent to the scene, along with North Wales Police and North Wales Ambulance Service.

Flintshire Council pollution control officer David Jones, also at the scene, said as part of the serious incident protocol, Public Health Wales, the Health and Safety Executive and Natural Resources Wales would also have been informed.

A spokesman for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service (NWFRS) confirmed the incident occurred when two cleaning agents were mixed, causing a release of toxic vapour.

NWFRS group manager Paul Scott said up to 12 employees were believed to have inhaled gas, with 11 taken to hospital.

“We had a call to a chemical leak and deployed a standard attendance to that level of incident,” he said at the scene.

“On arrival we found there was no leak and the chemical mixture was contained within a vessel. Twelve people working in the vicinity have potentially inhaled gas from the chemical.

“As a precautionary measure we are decontaminating the casualties, removing clothes they were wearing at the time.”

During the decontamination process, the workers then showered before being given fresh garments.

Mr Scott said the casualties were being taken to hospital for precautionary checks.

A representative from the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 9.34am today to an incident at a commercial property on River Lane Industrial Estate, Saltney.

“We sent two rapid response vehicles and four emergency ambulances to the scene, where 12 people required treatment.”

The people taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital were in a stable condition, the spokesman added.

A Public Health Wales spokesman said officers had given advice but there was no risk to the public.

Flintshire councillor for Saltney Ferry, Richard Lloyd, said he hoped no one had been badly injured.

“I hope everyone makes a full recovery as soon as possible,” he added.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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