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Chemical Spill, Smithfield

Published: 26th June 2006

At 9:47 am on Thursday 22 June 2006, staff working for a transport company in Smithfield became aware of a strong odour coming from a semi trailer parked in the complex. They notified the NSW Fire Brigades by ringing Triple Zero and fire crews from Merrylands, Smithfield and Fairfield and a specialist hazardous materials crew were responded.

The firefighters found a very strong odour in the area and immediately evacuated the 30 staff to a safe location. They donned protective suits and breathing apparatus before investigating the source of the odour,.

They found a liquid chemical leaking from a 200 litre drum that had been damaged in transit. Firefighters were able to identify the substance as diethylhydroxylamine, a highly flammable liquid. They isolated all ignition sources that could have ignited the highly flammable vapour. No electrical, petrol or mechanical device, no smoking, sparks or flames were permitted within 50 m of the trailer.

The chemical had contaminated the remaining contents of the trailer. Firefighters wearing chemical suits and breathing apparatus manually unloaded the contents - a long and arduous process. Additional crews were called in from Horningsea Park and Cabramatta to assist.

At 3:50 pm, management of the site was handed back to the owners. The area was made safe and no-one had suffered any physical affects from the spilled chemical. It took 6 hours for the NSW Fire Brigades to completely clean up the spill, place the damaged drum into a special Hazmat Recovery Bin and decontaminate all the Firefighters.