Seven treated after chemical spill
Seven people were treated in hospital for breathing difficulties while a large part of an industrial estate had to be evacuated following a chemical spill tonight.
The incident was reported shortly before 5pm at Chemifloc Ltd, a chemical manufacturing plant at Smithstown in Shannon. Company staff quickly evacuated the plant while the emergency services were alerted.
It is understood a significant amount of chlorine was spilled in one section of the plant sending a vapour cloud into the air while also filling the building.
Clare fire service issued a precautionary message on local radio advising motorists in the vicinity of the M18 motorway and N19 link road to Shannon, to drive with their windows closed. The vapour cloud was blown in that direction by the northerly breeze.
Meanwhile, gardaí set up roadblocks at the entrance to the plant and industrial estate allowing only emergency vehicles in.
A number of premises in the vicinity of the plant were evacuated by gardaí while fire crews investigated the extent of the spill.
Three units of the fire brigade from nearby Shannon were sent to the scene initially however, on arrival, the officer in charge requested additional fire crews as well as a number of ambulances.
Three crews from Ennis mobilised to the incident however two water tankers from Ennis and Shannon were sent in support later. In total, eight units of the fire brigade had to deal with the incident.
Fire crews donned special protective suits over their fire fighting clothing as well as breathing equipment before they could enter the building and deal with the spill.
Two people initially complained of breathing difficulties however soon afterwards, three more people told fire personnel they were experiencing similar problems. They were treated initially by fire personnel while several ambulances were mobilised to the incident.
A total of seven people, five men and two women and all understood to be staff members, were later taken to the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick for treatment.
The first two casualties to arrive at the hospital could not be admitted until they had first undergone decontamination. Two units of the fire brigade were sent to the hospital to set up specialised tent so they could undergo the procedure.
Back at the scene, the casualties who had yet not left the scene, underwent the decontamination process on site before being transported to hospital.
All seven were being treated for breathing problems but none was said to have been seriously hurt.
Chief fire officer for Co Clare, Adrian Kelly, confirmed the incident had been contained and added: "On the advice of Chemifloc chemists, the chemical reaction causing the gas emission at the plant does not pose any public health risk."