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Chemical spill contained after drum rolled off forklift in Tomago, NSW

Source: Safe to Work

by: Angela Welsh

A 1000-litre drum of methyl ethyl ketone cracked at a warehouse in the NSW suburb of Tomago, near Newcastle, last Thursday. The tank containing the hazardous liquid was believed to have rolled off a forklift.

In response to the chemical spill, police evacuated 100 people and established a 300-metre exclusion zone in the vicinity of Old Punt Road in order to protect the public from this flammable and potentially explosive compound.

The spill occurred shortly before 2pm at CQMS Razer (formerly Central Queensland Mining Supplies and Razer Industries), a manufacturer of mining and materials processing equipment.

Officials had feared a possible run-off of the chemical, also known as Butanone, into surrounding waterways. In order to guard against this, as well as possible explosions, power was turned off in nearby areas, streets were blocked to public traffic and all possible ignition sources were removed.

During the clean-up operation, NSW Fire and Rescue Inspector Chris Sedgwick said most of the chemical spilt was covering a concreted area. This meant fire-fighters were able to dam the liquid, then absorb it, in order to clean the area and render it safe.

Six fire-fighting units plus the heavy Hazmat unit out of Newcastle were despatched to contain and clean up the spill.

The chemicals had been mopped up, with no injuries and no damages of any kind to contiguous areas by Thursday evening, according to Superintendent Paul Bailey.

As reported in the Australian, via AAP newswires, SP Bailey commented: "Everything is either back open or in the process of being reopened . . . We've had no run-off into waterways."

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