Del Monte in Wisbech evacuated and cleaners taken to hospital after chlorine gas leak

PUBLISHED: 14:18 18 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:33 02 June 2010

EXCLUSIVE by: MAGGIE GIBSON A FACTORY was evacuated and four cleaners taken to hospital when they were overcome by a potentially poisonous gas. Emergency services were called to Del Monte in Weasenham Lane, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, after chlorine gas leak

EXCLUSIVE by: MAGGIE GIBSON

A FACTORY was evacuated and four cleaners taken to hospital when they were overcome by a potentially poisonous gas.

Emergency services were called to Del Monte in Weasenham Lane, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, after chlorine gas leaked from 'foamers' used to clean machines in the fruit preparation area.

Police, fire and ambulance services went to the factory and the Health and Safety Executive has confirmed it has been informed.

A spokesman for the HSE said: "We are aware of the incident and are making enquiries."

The four taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn were employed by MITIE, one of the biggest cleaning contractors in the UK. They were given oxygen to help with their breathing difficulties and underwent tests on arrival at hospital.

A spokeswoman for MITIE said: "All of the employees in the incident concerned returned to work last week and a full investigation was carried out with Del Monte.

"We are implementing improved measures to ensure that a repeat of the incident cannot occur."

Union bosses have since criticised the company for the way it dealt with the incident which happened around 11pm on Sunday March 7. However, at the time of going to press Del Monte was unavailable for comment.

A spokesman for Unite claimed: "One of our members finally left the building because he couldn't stand up. Shortly after that the factory was evacuated.

"The manager then told everyone to go back in - at this point no first aid or health and safety check was carried out, but nonetheless everyone was told to go back in.

"The workers went back in but shortly after that everyone was evacuated again because the situation became worse. An ambulance was called and the four cleaners were rushed to hospital."

The fire service was called at 12.06am on March 8 after the ambulance service asked for advice because there had been an incident involving chemicals. Two appliances from March attended.

A spokesman said: "Two chemicals mixed together and there was some kind of reaction. There was no spillage of chemicals, we were there for about 20 minutes just to make sure everything was safe.


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