Health and safety 'enquiries' made into chemical spill at Banham Poultry

The fire incident commander talks to Banham Poultry staff outside the factory in Attleborough after

The fire incident commander talks to Banham Poultry staff outside the factory in Attleborough after a chemical incident. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Health and safety officials are "making enquiries" following a chemical spill which saw 11 people taken to hospital. 

Emergency services were sent to the Banham Poultry factory in Attleborough on Wednesday morning following reports people in the area were struggling to breathe. 

Police and fire crews at Banham Poultry in Attleborough for a chemical incident. Picture: DENISE BRA

Police and fire crews at Banham Poultry in Attleborough for a chemical incident. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Medical personnel were joined by firefighters from across the county and police, who shut Station Road. 

The fire service subsequently revealed the incident had resulted from a hazardous materials leak, rather than a blaze.

Fourteen patients were treated at the site, with 11 of those taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) for further treatment.

And on Thursday, NNUH confirmed a single person had been admitted to hospital, while there were also two walk-ins related to the incident. 

Meanwhile, the Healthy and Safety Executive (HSE), the government agency responsible for regulating workplace safety, said it had been informed. 

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In a brief statement, a HSE spokesman added: “HSE is aware of the incident and is making initial enquiries.”

Banham Poultry staff outside the factory in Attleborough after a chemical incident. Picture: DENISE

Banham Poultry staff outside the factory in Attleborough after a chemical incident. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Following the chemical leak, Banham Poultry's managing director, Blaine van Rensburg, said efforts were being made to establish the cause. 

He added: “The exact cause is unknown at this stage but is reported to be a reaction between cleaning chemicals. This is extremely unlikely as these solutions are used daily, without incident.” 

A spokesman for Banham Poultry said on Thursday that the company had "nothing further to add at this time". 

A fire fighter at Banham Poultry in Attleborough for a chemical incident. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A fire fighter at Banham Poultry in Attleborough for a chemical incident. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Wednesday’s incident was not the first time emergency services have been sent to the plant in recent years.  

In October 2018, pest control subcontractors Neil Moon and Jonathan Collins were found dead at the plant, signalling the launch of an ongoing health and safety probe. 

Less than six months later a person was airlifted to hospital following a fire at the site, before another significant blaze broke out in October last year

Police and fire crews at Banham Poultry in Attleborough for a chemical incident. Picture: DENISE BRA

Police and fire crews at Banham Poultry in Attleborough for a chemical incident. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The business was besieged by problems in 2020 as it suffered one of Norfolk's biggest coronavirus outbreaks.

Rhodri Oliver, county councillor for the area, has called for a full investigation into the spill. 

He added: "Residents are rightly concerned about how such an incident occurred and what has gone wrong."

Police at Banham Poultry in Attleborough for a chemical incident. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Police at Banham Poultry in Attleborough for a chemical incident. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021


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