Staff evacuated in factory scare

A MECHANICAL fault was blamed for an ammonia leak which led to 100 staff being evacuated from a Birstall factory.

Firefighters with specialist monitoring equipment were sent to paint firm PPG Architectural Coatings around 9.15pm on Wednesday. They spent more than three hours making sure the Huddersfield Road premises were safe.

Ammonia, used in the manufacture of paints, can be potentially explosive and also poses a threat to the environment. Brands of PPG, a US firm founded in Pittsburgh, include Johnstone’s Paint and Leyland Paint.

Adrian Murphy, crew commander at Cleckheaton Fire Station, said five firefighters with breathing apparatus entered the factory.

He added: “It appears that there had been a mechanical failure somewhere in the plant.

“Once we had established there was no threat to life, we left it in the hands of a specialist repair team from Manchester.

“The spillage was contained on site but how much ammonia was leaked it is hard to say.”

A PPG spokesman said “The site has since returned to normal operations.”

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