Yorkshire's second chemical fire boosts case for pollution controls

The explosion and fire at Hickson and Welch's Castleford works on 21 September was the second major chemical accident in Yorkshire within two months. The incidents have added weight to demands by the National Rivers Authority (NRA) for fire-fighting water containment facilities which would prevent pollution of watercourses following major accidents at chemical production and storage premises.

The Castleford incident began with an explosion in a nitrotoluene still which had been shut down for maintenance. The resulting fireball burned through a nearby prefabricated control building and set light to part of a four-storey office block about 30 metres away. Two employees were killed instantly and two died later in hospital. Twelve others were injured.

Seventeen fire engines tackled the blaze for several hours. Nearby residents wer

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