UPDATE: Two small incidents, not a leak - says boss of evacuated Brentwood laboratory

Two separate incidents at a Brentwood pharmaceutical company caused an evacuation this morning, said the company’s boss.

Paramedics were called to The Martindale Pharmaceuticals Ltd lab in Hubert Road at 11am.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said that three people’s conditions were assessed after they inhaled unidentified fumes and suffered from nusea and dizziness.

Paramedics called for the fire brigade after assessing the situation.

A spokesman for the fire service, who had four crews at the scene, said that there were two different fumes in the building - suspected to be diesel and diethyl ether.

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Both diesel and diethyl ether fumes are highly flammable.

Martindale Pharmaceuticals CEO Richard de Souza said: “There were two separate incidents that occurred.

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“First, in our manufacturing facility a lorry which was removing waste, and the collectors left our door open which meant that waste from the lorry exhaust was entering an open door.

“Two people felt unwell from that, so paramedics were called.”

He said that the second incident occurred shortly afterwards, when a member of staff opened a tin of chemicals at her desk, which should only have been opened in a secure area which would extract the fumes from it.

Mr de Souza said the chemical was iodine rather than ether.

He added: “The smell of the fumes made her feel unwell and the paramedics – who were on hand – called the fire brigade as a precaution.”

Three members of staff were taken to hospital, and two of them have been discharged, the CEO said. He added that staff would be reminded of the proper procedure for handling chemicals.

Fire crews ventilated the building and left it at 1.10pm, when the day’s business resumed.

Were you affected by the incident? Call our newsdesk on 020 8477 3796 or email ian.weinfass@archant.co.uk.

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