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Chemical spill at Dale Farm food factory in Cookstown

  • 2-23-2014

Firefighters have been called to deal with toxic fumes at a food processing plant in County Tyrone, after factory staff reported a chemical spill.

It happened at about 15:40 GMT at a Dale Farm factory in Cookstown.

District commander Andy Sinclair, from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue (NIFRS), said the fumes were caused by a spill from a 1,000 litre drum.

No-one was injured, but local residents were advised to stay indoors and keep their doors and windows closed.

Evacuation

Mr Sinclair said up 25 firefighters were involved in the operation and had to wear breathing apparatus and chemical protection suits.

"On arrival, we found a 1,000 litre drum of chemicals had spilled, which was giving off toxic fumes, which were quite evident and could be seen in colour," the NIFRS commander added.

He said they evacuated the immediate area but, because the wind was blowing the fumes in the opposite direction, they did not evacuate a nearby housing estate

"We were satisfied that the wind was blowing in the right direction, taking it away into fields, so it wasn't threatening anybody in the immediate stages.

"Basically, between ourselves and the management team at the premises, we came up with a plan to dilute the chemical with water and flush it to drainage system that they had on site, so it was maintained and kept on site in their own systems."

Mr Sinclair said it was a "quite a protracted incident" and it took his staff about four hours to complete the operation.

Extension

Firefighters left the scene on Cookstown's Moneymore Road at about 20:00 GMT.

Dale Farm is the largest dairy production company in Northern Ireland and is part of the United Dairy Farmers Group.

The group employs about 1,000 people and exports a range of dairy products to more than 45 countries.

Last December, Dale Farm celebrated the official opening of an extension to its Cookstown factory.

The company also invested in new machinery, doubling the amount of cheese it was able to proceed at the plant.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2014 BBC


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