Leaking chemicals alert as ship docks

Part of Avonmouth docks was sealed off today after a container ship was found with damaged boxes containing a potentially lethal cocktail of chemicals.

Part of Avonmouth docks was sealed off today after a container ship was found with damaged boxes containing a potentially lethal cocktail of chemicals.

Chemical experts from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) were flown in to prevent any leakages from the boxes and make the area safe.

A spokesman said tonight the operation had been successful and the final damaged container had been removed ‘‘without incident’’.

The nine broken boxes were discovered on the container ship Dutch Navigator when it arrived from Bilbao in Spain late on Friday afternoon, sparking fears of a major chemical alert.

They contained a range of substances and goods, including acid, sodium chloride, marble, rock salt, slate and confectionery.

To prevent any damage, the MCA sent a stock of alkaline powder at 3am today and transported strike equipment from its stockpile at Milford Haven.

Staff worked throughout the night and this morning to seal off the damaged boxes from the rest of the cargo in the ship. A crew from Avonmouth Fire Service was also on standby during the operation.

The MCA spokesman said: ‘‘None of the boxes leaked on to the ship or into the water but there were fears that if they did the different substances could combine to become volatile and dangerous.’’

It had been a ‘‘precautionary exercise’’ and no leakages had occurred.

Maritime salvage expert for the MCA Robin Middleton, who monitored the operation, said the final damaged container of acid was successfully removed late this afternoon.

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