Chemical firm fined following gas leak
Environmental update 28/11/2011
A chemical firm based in South Tyneside has been prosecuted by
the Environment Agency (EA) following a serious gas leak.
An orange gas cloud was seen leaking from Industrial Chemicals
Ltd's Hebburn plant in September last year. Following the report,
officers from the EA investigated the plant and discovered that the
firm had been producing ferric sulphate, which is often used for
the treatment of sewage.
The gas cloud was a result of this process, and can be extremely
toxic and corrosive if inhaled or brought into contact with
Industrial Chemicals Ltd had failed to follow site procedures
and had added too much acid to the chemical creation process,
meaning that a large cloud of nitrogen dioxide was released into
Luckily, the cloud - which was estimated to contain around 194
litres of nitrogen dioxide - dissipated before anyone was harmed by
it. Whilst the emission limit is set at 200mg per cubic metre, this
was exceeded by the firm by 386mg per cubic metre.
The firm was fined £10,000, plus £5,600 in costs at South
Tyneside Magistrates Court following their admission of breaching
Regulatory officer at the EA, Peter Duffy, said, “This was a
potentially serious incident, and had the prevailing wind been in a
different direction, it could have been much worse.
“We take our role to protect the environment very seriously. 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,” Mr
Since the incident, the chemical firm has taken steps to prevent
a similar leak happening again.
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