Hazmat emergency at Somersby

Published: 20th February 2009

More than 40 firefighters responded to a Hazmat emergency in Somersby this morning. Fire crews from Kariong, Wyoming, Gosford, Umina, Budgewoi, Saratoga, Hamlyn Terrace, The Entrance, Hazmat specialists from Berkley Vale, the scientific advisor and Hazmat specialists from Greenacre, the Duty and Zone Commander, RFS crews, Police and Ambulance officers played a role in this incident. Firefighters were on scene in nine minutes to discover that a small fire in a chemical factory had triggered the building's sprinkler system. The sprinklers contained the fire but water came in contact with 900 kilograms of a chlorine based chemical causing a reaction that gave off fumes. Fire crews ensured that all of the occupants of the factory had left the building and an exclusion zone was established with a total of 235 people evacuated from the factory and surrounding businesses. Two workers were taken to hospital suffering a mild reaction from the fumes. Firefighters wearing protective suits identified the chemical and confirmed it was located in a hopper. Hazmat crews continually monitored the atmosphere and the runoff water; both returned negative readings for harmful substances. Fire crews maintained the monitoring overnight and by next morning the chemical had dried out. Firefighters in protective suits were then able to place the chemical into Hazmat drums and decontaminated the factory.