Update: Man suffers acid burns at Wissington sugar beet factory

A man suffered sulphuric acid burns to his neck, chest and hands in an incident at world's largest sugar beet factory near Downham Market today.

East Anglian Air Ambulance said a crew was sent to the Wissington sugar beet factory this morning following an industrial incident.

The clinical team of Dr Dan Nevin and East of England critical care paramedic Jemma Varela were flown to the scene by Captain Chris Sherriff to treat the man, believed to be in his 40s.

Upon arrival, the medical crew aboard Anglia Two assessed the patient, administered pain relief before airlifting him to Broomfield Hospital, in Essex, where he received further assessment and specialist treatment to his injuries.

Paramedic Jemma Varela said: 'Thankfully this patient was wearing his personal protective equipment, issued by the factory. Had he not been, the situation could have been far worse.'

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She continued: 'It was important that this patient received the best treatment possible for these specific injuries.

'It was therefore more appropriate, and quicker, for the East Anglian Air Ambulance to take him to the most appropriate hospital for his needs rather than the nearest.'

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The factory in Wissington is run by British Sugar, which also has factories in Cantley, near Acle, and Bury St Edmunds.

A spokesman for the company said: 'In line with our company procedures, the Health and Safety Executive were notified immediately of the incident whereby an injury occurred to one individual. 'An internal investigation has commenced relating to this injury and until the investigation has been completed, we are unable to comment further.'

The factory supplies more than 400,000 tonnes of sugar to food and drink manufacturers in the UK and across Europe every year.

The 'most efficient factory in Europe' also employs up to 300 people during the six-month beet campaign and also produces 100,000 tonnes of dried animal feed and 120,000 tonnes of LimeX every year.

The sugar beet industry is worth about �800m to the economy in eastern England and supports a total of 13,000 jobs.

Wissington is also the UK's largest grower of tomatoes and produces 140m tomatoes at its 44-acre Cornerways Nursery every year.

The nursery, which began in 2001 with just 12 acres (five hectares) of glasshouse, uses combined heat and power plant from the factory to help maintain temperatures.

A spokesman from the Health and Safety Executive told the EDP was aware of the incident and is investigating.

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