Yorkshire pollution disaster puts spotlight on chemical industry

Serious damage to Yorkshire rivers has been caused by a fire at Allied Colloids' chemical warehouse in Bradford. The incident raises disturbing questions about whether the chemical industry has absorbed the lessons of a Swiss warehouse fire which caused a pollution disaster on the Rhine in 1986. It may also put pressure on "green investment" funds which have overlooked the firm's poor local reputation to review their holdings in the company.

The Bradford incident began on 21 July, when stocks of a polymerisation catalyst, azodiisobutyronitrile (AZDN), overheated in Allied Colloids' raw materials warehouse. The chemical released dust which appears to have caused stocks of ammonium persulphate, a powerful oxidising agent, to burst into flames.

The fire burned through the afternoon and night, and was attended by over 30 fire engines. Local residents were evacuated or told to sta

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