Wednesday 17 January 2018

Eighth worker in hospital after gas accident

Pat Flynn

AN eighth person has been hospitalised after an incident involving chlorine gas at a chemical plant.

Seven staff at Chemifloc Ltd, a chemical manufacturing plant at Smithstown in Shannon, Co Clare, were initially hospitalised after the incident involving the bleach sodium hypochlorite.

However, another worker brought themselves to the A&E department in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The incident happened at around 4.45pm on Thursday while workers were loading a consignment of the chemical.

During the procedure, an acidic substance was accidentally mixed with the bleach and a chemical reaction occurred, releasing chlorine gas within the building and into the air outside.

It took eight units of the fire service from Shannon and Ennis more than three hours to contain the situation. Crews wearing specialist chemical suits and breathing equipment took turns entering the building to deal with the incident.

As the vapour cloud spread in the air, motorists driving home from work in Shannon also experienced the effects of the gas.

The fire service and gardai had discussed the possibility of closing the motorway for a time as a precaution.

Clare's Chief Fire Officer Mr Adrian Kelly said: "There was a gas cloud that went up into the atmosphere and because of the conditions, with no wind and no rain, that took a long period of time dissipate so people would have got a strong odour around the plant and even further afield over towards the motorway.

"At the plant itself, one building was filled with the gas so we set up a water curtain and used fans to push the gas through the water which diluted the gas," Mr Kelly added.

The staff underwent decontamination procedures on site before being transported to hospital.

Irish Independent

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