18 affected and homes evacuated after toxic gas leak in Warrenpoint
Eighteen people are suffering the effects of exposure to the aluminium phosphide (AIP) gas after a toxic gas leak in Warrenpoint this morning led to a number of homes being evacuated in a large scale emergency operation.
It is believed the cargo of the MV Arklow Meadow ship, docked at Warrenpoint harbour, became unstable and wet which resulted in the release of toxic gases.
Speaking to Newry Times in the last few minutes, a PSNI spokesman explained the situation. “Nine have been taken to hospital and a further nine are currently being treated at the scene.”
“The cordon has been extended and a number of homes have been evacuated from Newry Street to the Square. The ship is being held within this cordon. The Town Hall has been made available for those evacuated.”
The spokesman added, “Police are advising nearby residents to close all windows and doors. Due to the north east wind blowing at present residents in Omeath and Carlingford are also being advised to close all windows and doors.”
The PSNI also confirmed they have been in touch with their counterparts in the gardai siochana after having suspicions over the potential of the gas to drift across the border in to the Cooley Peninsula.
The toxic gas, which is used as a pesticide, insecticide, and fumigant for stored cereal grains, is also used to kill small mammals such as moles and rodents.
Local SDLP MLA for South Down, Karen McKevitt has urged people in Warrenpoint to stay indoors until the emergency services state otherwise. McKevitt’s constituency office in Warrenpoint has been evacuated and speaking from the scene, she urged everyone to stay indoors.
“There’s no doubt that this has caused a huge amount of disruption and distress and we are hearing that people are being treated for the effects of being exposed to the toxic gas and our thoughts are with them at this time.
“I urge everybody to stay calm and co-operate fully with the emergency services until this incident is declared safe.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane congratulated the emergency services for their quick response. “The first thing I would like to say is that my thoughts are with the people who have been injured and I hope that they make a full recovery.
“I would like to congratulate the emergency services for their quick response to this incident and the professionalism shown in ensuring the safety of the local community.
“Obviously this incident is of great concern to the residents and people who work close to Warrenpoint harbour and there needs to be a full investigation into how this incident came about.
Ruane added, “Fortunately these incidents are fairly rare but however the harbour management need to review their safety procedures in order to reassure the local public of the safety of the port.”
More to follow.
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