Chemical Explosion in Billingham

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Thursday, June 1, 2006

There were been several large chemical explosions at the Terra Nitrogen UK chemical plant (previously owned by ICI) in Billingham, Teesside, England. The explosions started at 0015 BST. People living in Billingham and nearby Middlesbrough were advised to stay inside and keep windows closed if at all possible. Nearby roads were closed off for approximately two hours by police, for safety reasons.

Cleveland Fire and Rescue previously declared the incident a "major emergency", but was brought under control later in the morning. An ammonia leak was also reported, with nearby residents noticing the smell was contained, but is not cause for concern as it ignited immediately on release, preventing any fumes getting into the atmosphere. The plant was safely shut down later in the morning.

The explosion, resulting in a fire "involving mixed gases" was the immediate ignition of an ammonia gas leak, said a spokesman for the fire brigade.

The fire was visible for up to 10 miles, and the blast was heard up to 20 miles away.