Serious alert as city hydrochloric acid leak forces evacuation of 1,000

NEARLY 1,000 people had to be evacuated after hydrochloric acid leaked from a tank, forming a potentially lethal vapour which spread to adjoining industrial estates.

The leak was spotted at a chemical plant in Cork city shortly before 10am yesterday.

Staff at Goulding’s Chemicals, at Centre Park Road, notified the emergency services, who were quickly at the scene.

Gardaí sealed off roads in the area and started to evacuate workers, many of whom were in the nearby Marina Commercial Park.

A senior garda said this was done as a precaution, as the acid had turned into vapour and was blowing in a south-westerly direction.

If inhaled the vapour can cause serious respiratory damage and has been known to lead to death.

James Commisky, a 27-year-old worker who was evacuated from the commercial park, said people had confidence that the emergency services would handle the situation.

Fire brigade crews from Anglesea Street used breathing equipment and tried to keep the fumes down.

They stayed at the scene for several hours.

“The leaking container was drained and the hydrochloric acid was transferred to road tankers,” the garda spokesman said.

“Fortunately there were no injuries reported.”

Monaghan Road, Kennedy Road and The Marina were reopened to traffic later in the evening.

The Green Party’s Cllr Chris O’Leary praised the emergency services, but called on the Health and Safety Authority to ensure such events are not repeated.

“I am impressed by the quick and efficient reaction of the emergency services to the chemical spill this morning.

“The incident does, however, raise issues of concern regarding the storage and use of very hazardous materials in a city centre site. I am calling on the Health and Safety Authority to investigate the background to the spill today, and ensure such events are not repeated,” Cllr O’Leary said.

Goulding Chemicals is one of the largest supplier of tanker loads of chemicals in Ireland. It also has a storage depot in New Ross.

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