BESPAK LEAK UPDATE: Investigation launched
Medical device manufacturer Bespak has launched an investigation following a chemical leak at its North Lynn factory last night.
Bespak managing director Keyvan Djamarani said this afternoon that lessons would be learnt from the incident, which saw the Bergen Way factory evacuated and three workers taken to hospital as a precaution.
Six fire crews were called to the plant at 6.45pm yesterday after one of the machines in the manufacturing area malfunctioned and overheated, resulting in a cloud of smoke and toxic formaldehyde gas being released.
Four crews from Lynn, one from Terrington and the chemical incident unit from Sprowston, attended, and firefighters dealing with the incident wore gas-tight suits.
Three members of Bespak’s staff were given oxygen by paramedics and taken to Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital as a precautionary measure, but were released later that evening.
Two firefighters were also checked over at the scene by the East of England Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team.
Bob Ayers, group manager for the western area of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, stressed that there was never any risk to public safety.
He said: “It was a large production area, and when the first crew arrived there a visual cloud was throughout the area. But it was in a sterile room so it was contained to the area.”
Mr Djamarani explained that the machine that malfunctioned was processing polymers for use in components that make up the firm’s medical devices.
He said: “Generally speaking, when a machine is performing correctly there is no breakdown of polymers. In this instance, they overheated and gave off smoke and fumes.”
He also said an investigation would now be launched to see what could be learned.
“As always, in any incident whether it is small or large, we will undertake an investigation to see what happened, and in this instance, with a machine malfunction, we will see whether the parts are compliant.
“For us, health and safety is a number one priority, and the most important thing was that we followed procedure. We evacuated the facility and the emergency services were very responsive arriving on site to investigate before declaring the site cleared.
“Three employees in the vacinity of the equipment were checked out and taken to hospital as a precaution but I’m pleased to say they are safe and sound.
“From my perspective it turned out very well overall, and I’m sure there will be things we can take from this. I’m just very pleased no-one was hurt and everything transpired to be fine.”
The Health and Safety Executive was informed of the incident, and a spokesman said they were looking into it but had not launched a formal investigation.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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