A company in Essex has been fined after four chemical storage tanks failed, and spilled around 150 tonnes of hazardous material.

Industrial Chemicals Limited was responsible for the accident which lead to an industrial estate being evacuated and access roads closing. Nobody was harmed as a result of the accident.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted on 1 August after an investigation found the company failed to manage, inspect and maintain the tanks in question.

The incident happened when a glass reinforced plastic tank failed which released its contents of 66 tonnes of aluminium chloride. This then went on to damage another three tanks, releasing a further 32 tonnes of aluminium chloride and 52 tonnes of hydrochloric acid.

The company could not show evidence that tanks were being operated within their design lives, or were being suitably inspected and maintained to ensure they were fit for continuous use.

Five Prohibition Notices were served to prevent the use of the glass reinforced plastic tanks that were left and had not been destroyed.

After additional inspections were made in July 2013, a further ten Prohibition Notices were served for the same reasons.

Industrial Chemicals Limited was fined £50 000 and ordered to pay £14 231 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE Inspector, Andrew Saunders stated: “Industrial Chemical Ltd’s failure to manage, inspect and maintain their GRP tanks contributed to this spillage. The measures needed to prevent this kind of incident are straightforward and guidance is freely available from HSE. There is no excuse for companies storing hazardous materials not to follow this guidance.”