Paint factory suffers two leaks in four-day period

Chemical Spill in Stowmarket
Chemical Spill in Stowmarket
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FIRE crews attended two chemical spills in four days at a paint factory in Stowmarket.

At around 2.15pm on Sunday, firefighters were called to PPG Industries UK Ltd, in Needham Road, following the detection of a leak of liquid phthalic anhydride (LPA), a chemical used in making car paint.

Police were called in to set up a cordon and to go door to door urging residents in the immediate area to stay indoors and close all windows.

The spill followed a similar incident on Thursday, January 12, just four days earlier, when thousands of litres of potentially flammable solvent liquid escaped from a reactor vessel.

In both cases, the resin plant was evacuated and firefighters used a blanket of foam to contain the leak.

Tony Carter, a director of Cedars Hotel and Restaurant in Stowmarket, which is just a few hundred metres away from the factory, said although they had been warned about the incident, residents may not have been as well informed.

He said: “For the spill on Sunday they closed the road, so it did affect the business.

“We just got a phone call advising people here to stay indoors and to keep the doors and windows closed.

“We have had ongoing discussions in the past about what should happen if there is an incident.

“But the businesses in the area may have been better informed than the residents.”

A spokesman for PPG said: “PPG Industries UK Ltd, Stowmarket, site initiated the site emergency response team for two unrelated incidents on 12th and 15th January 2012.

“In both cases, the PPG site emergency team followed standard procedures, activated the direct link calls to the Suffolk County Fire Service.

“Both incidents involved the release of chemicals at the resin plant and were handled quickly and in line with COMAH approved emergency procedures.

“Whilst regrettable, neither incident posed any threat to employees, the public, the local environment or the PPG facility.”

A police spokeswoman said: “Police were contacted by the fire service, who were leading on the incident, at around 2.40pm, Sunday, January 15, requesting assistance with closing the road.

“As a precaution police and fire officers had advised residents to stay indoors, with doors and windows closed, while the incident was dealt with.”