Chemical waste spill in Heathfield prompts warning from firefighters

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A CHEMICAL waste spill in Heathfield has sparked a warning about the kind of materials that can be dumped at household waste recycling sites.

Uckfield firefighters are warning people to think very carefully about what they take to the tip.

This follows a chemical incident at the Heathfield site, Burwash Road on June 11 which closed the area to the public for nearly two hours.

The alarm was raised by staff at the tip after they noticed that something had started smoking in one of the rubble containers. Two crews from Uckfield Community Fire Station were sent to the incident at 3.57pm.

Watch Commander Ian Ritchie said: “The site was immediately evacuated and East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service was called in, along with a hazardous materials and environmental protection officer (HMEPO) to help identify the mysterious white powdery substance. The site was closed to the public and our fire appliances remained at the gate while we investigated.

“It was identified as a lime-based building material which had been dumped in carrier bags and had started to react with the rain, giving off heat. This chemical reaction turned the water to steam and resulted in the powder turning to grey plaster material.

“The decision was made to speed up the chemical reaction by adding water to the material and bringing the incident to a speedy close by neutralising the product.”

An officer liaised with the site owners and the situation was handed back over to management at the site.

Watch Commander Ritchie reminds the public: “Whoever dumped this powder must have known it would have this reaction. We would urge people to be mindful of any repercussions which could occur from any waste which they dump. Please let the site management know what you are dumping and they will be able to guide you in the best way to dispose of the material.”