Businesses evacuated after chemical spill at industrial estate brings 40 firefighters
A CORROSIVE chemical spill at an industrial estate near Liskeard sparked an emergency clean-up operation involving 40 firefighters, writes Diana Prince.
A dozen businesses at Pensilva Industrial Estate were evacuated, a 50-metre cordon set up and the nearby road closed from midday yesterday.
Fire crews, police and ambulances were called after a split drum leaking the industrial cleaning agent sodium hydroxide was discovered in the back of a delivery lorry.
Six firefighters wearing gas-tight chemical protection suits and breathing apparatus dealt with the spillage, which was giving off fumes after reacting with substances on the flatbed.
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Incident commander Richard Gibbons, of the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The driver had looked in the vehicle and found the chemicals had spilled and were proving a problem.
"One of the containers had leaked chemicals which had reacted with materials on the bed of the lorry, and started to spill to the ground.
"We responded initially with one fire engine from Liskeard. The incident commander on arrival determined that chemicals were involved and requested further assistance.
"We set up a 50-metre cordon for the protection of the public and evacuated the surrounding commercial premises."
Engines from Callington, Launceston and Saltash and an environmental support vehicle were called in.
Incident commander Gibbons said: "It turned out the risk wasn't high, but we took every precaution to deal with it. Several crews were involved, co-operating with police and ambulance crews, in case there were any casualties, which thankfully there weren't."
The lorry, carrying a mixed load including 12 20-litre drums of sodium hydroxide, resins and other items, had been delivering a bath to Pensilva business Connor Innovations before travelling elsewhere.
Ron Connor, who runs the beer trolley factory with his son, said the vehicle was on his forecourt when the leak was found.
"We were the first ones evacuated," said Ron. "At first I didn't expect it to last more than half an hour or so but then various people arrived and it developed into something quite big.
"It's totally written us off from about 11.30am, because we weren't allowed back in and lost half a day's production."
Fire crews wound down the operation throughout the afternoon, gradually reducing the cordon and completing the operation by the early evening.