Chemical explosion in Belfast

An emergency exclusion zone was set up today after a chemical explosion in Belfast’s docklands.

The Police Service and the Fire & Rescue Service set up a 100-metre zone after sealing off a chemical distribution firm in the Harbour Estate.

The explosion, in the Duncrue area of the estate, is understood to have involved hazardous materials.

Police urged people living in the area to keep their windows and doors closed and motorists to avoid the area.

There were no reports of injuries in the blast.

A spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said problems arose when a chemical container was being cleaned out.

“It created a plume, a brown hazy cloud which firefighters are spraying water on to disperse,” she said.

Firefighters with four appliances were involved in the operation – no one had been hurt and there had been no fire, she added.

A spokesman for the Environment and Heritage Service added: “First reports indicate that the explosion was as a result of nitric acid being poured into a contaminated industrial bulk container resulting in a chemical reaction causing the explosion.

“Drainage systems at the site have been blocked thus preventing any liquid material entering the port waters, and initial indications are that this is proving successful.

NIFRS has deployed a water mist screen to try to prevent nitrous oxide gas escaping from the site, and this liquid material is also being contained.

“The chemical company have been advised to treat any liquids as hazardous waste and to have it removed by a competent waste disposal company.”


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