Toxic gas leak from Co Down ship
Nine people have been taken to hospital and a further nine are being treated at the scene of a suspected toxic gas leak from a ship in Co Down.
It is believed the ship docked in Warrenpoint harbour with a cargo that became wet and unstable, resulting in the release of aluminium phosphide (AIP) gas into the atmosphere.
A 50 metre cordon is in place around the ship and a number of homes have been evacuated. Police are advising nearby residents to stay inside with all doors and windows closed.
Gardaí have also been warned of the potential for the gas to drift across the border into Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth.
Aluminium phosphide is used as an insecticide and pesticide. It is also used to kill rodents, and as a fumigant for stored cereal grains.
It is a highly toxic gas that can cause severe illness.
Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane this afternoon said there needed to be a full investigation of how the incident happened.
“The first thing I would like to say is that my thoughts are with the people who have been injured and I hope that they make a full recovery," she said.
“Obviously this incident is of great concern to the residents and people who work close to Warrenpoint harbour and there needs to be a full investigation into how this incident came about.
“Fortunately these incidents are fairly rare but however the harbour management need to review their safety procedures in order to reassure the local public of the safety of the port.”
She congratulated the emergency services for their professionalism and quick response to the gas leak.