The incident, at the premises of Essex company Industrial Chemicals Limited (ICL), took place on 11 July 2013, and led to the evacuation of an industrial estate and the closure of access roads. The subsequent investigation by the HSE established that a glass reinforced plastic (GRP) tank catastrophically failed causing the release of 66 tonnes of aluminium chloride. This spillage then damaged three further tanks causing a further 32 tonnes of aluminium chloride to be released together with 52 tonnes of hydrochloric acid. Despite the extensive spillage, nobody was harmed in the incident.
After the HSE found that ICL were unable to demonstrate that the tanks were being operated within their design lives, five prohibition notices were served to prevent the use of the other GRP tanks on site. During a further inspection in the days after the incident, the HSE also found similar issues with ICL’s metallic storage tanks which led to a further ten prohibition notices being issued.
ICL pleaded guilty to breach of s.2(1) HSWA for failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees and was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,231.