Firefighters tackle major blaze at North Shields solvents plant of Distillex

12 April 2002 18:00  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (CNI)--Firefighters were battling a major blaze on Friday at the North Shields, Tyneside solvents recycling plant of Distillex.

The plant was hit by a series of explosions this afternoon and the subsequent fire forced emergency services to impose a half-mile exclusion zone around the plant and evacuate scores of buildings and homes.

A Tyne and Wear Fire Brigade spokesman said that 10 pumping units and one turntable ladder were tackling the flames. He said the fire was well established in the Distillex compound factory unit where an unknown quantity of chemicals was present.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone had been killed or seriously injured in the incident at Distillex's East Percy Street plant.

Distillex is privately owned and has been established for 18 years. It handles chlorinated solvents and other solvents from alcohol to xylenes. This year it had expected to handle 1000 tonne of other chemicals for disposal. Distillex holds stocks of solvents for immediate despatch and operates distillation and solvent recovery plants at the site.

It is the second time this year that residents in the area have been evacuated following an incident at the plant. In January, police were forced to evacuate some homes and order thousands of people to remain indoors after a toxic cloud was released from the factory. The gas escape occurred after a cylinder containing a waste product overheated.

(Additional reporting by Nigel Davis.)

By: Neil Sinclair
+44 20 8652 3214

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