§ Mr. Gourlay
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the spillage of liquid gas at the chemical plant of Lake and Cruickshank, in Buckhaven, Fife, on Friday 17th January when persons were removed to hospital with burning injuries and a nearby housing estate was evacuated; and if he will undertake to publish the findings of the inquiry into the accident.
§ Mr. Harold Walker
I am advised by the Health and Safety Commission that initial investigation by the Factory Inspectorate indicated that the incident occurred in the bromination plant at the works. In this plant drug preparations are manufactured and a reaction vessel is used in the process. The chemical process is totally enclosed and an intermediate bromine compound is produced within the closed plant. On Friday afternoon the 17th January a release of vapours of this bromine compond occurred. The cause of the release of the vapour is still being investigated by the district staff and by a chemical inspector from the industrial hygiene unit in London.
Five employees in the vicinity were affected by the lacrymatory effects of the vapour. The fire brigade was called and as the vapour appeared to be drifting towards a nearby housing estate the inhabitants were evacuated as a precautionary measure. Four of the five employees were kept in hospital for three days and one is understood to be still in hospital.
The investigation of the incident is continuing and consideration will be given to any further action which may be required as a result of the investigation.