Interesting calls - March 2013

Leaked battery acid

A firefighter called NCEC for advice about an incident involving two fork-lift truck batteries that were being transported. The batteries had tipped over and had leaked acid. Most of the acid had been contained using absorbent granules, but approximately 2 litres was trapped in the shrink wrap of the pallet.

Our Emergency Responder talked the options through with the caller and they came to the conclusion that the safest option would be for the Fire Service to pierce the wrapping at arm’s length. The Emergency Responder advised placing a cordon around the area and suggested a method for piercing the wrapping that would reduce the risk of the acid splashing people.

Our Emergency Responders draw on their in-depth chemical knowledge and experience of dealing with incidents to provide practical advice, ensuring the safety of the emergency services and members of the public.

Exploding sodium

NCEC recently received a call from a fire officer regarding an incident where a member of the public had found 15 containers of sodium. The 50g containers had been left outside and showed signs of corrosion, burning and explosions. The person who discovered the containers had started to wash some of the product away with water, but this resulted in further explosions.

Our Emergency Responder advised that sodium is highly reactive with water and suggested placing the containers in a secondary container and covering the material with oil. The Emergency Responder also provided details of waste disposal companies that would be able to deal with the material.

Immediate access to qualified chemists ensures that the most appropriate actions and suitable precautions are taken.

Gas leak at supermarket

A Hazmat Officer contacted NCEC regarding an incident involving a gas leak at a supermarket. The leak had been described as a white/grey cloud and one man had been overcome by the fumes. A fridge had been identified as a potential source of the leak.

Our Emergency Responder advised that certain refrigerant gases could cause pulmonary oedema so it would be sensible to monitor the affected person for 48 hours. The Emergency Responder also provided advice on the hazards of the gas and decontamination of fire kit.

Immediate access to expert advice means that hazards can be accurately identified allowing incidents to be resolved quickly without compromising safety.