Four people have died whilst after carrying out maintenance work on the top of a Silo at the Waste treatment works in Avonmouth near Bristol.
Police Fire and Paramedics were all called to the incident after the workers were blown some distance from the blast site of a silo that contained lime.
Three of the victims were employees of Wessex water and a fourth was a contractor.
Specialist USAR teams from Avon Fire and Rescue were called to assist firefighters,
Search dogs were also used to assist in the recovery of those involved after they had been blown some distance.
A fifth person has been treated and taken to hospital.
The Health and Safety Executive has launched an investigation into the cause of the explosion they are working with officers from Avon and Somerset Police.
It’s understood from sources that one line of the investigation is the cause may be down to a dust explosion. Thus is the rapid combustion of fine particles suspended in the air within an enclosed location. Dust explosions can occur where any dispersed powdered combustible material is present in high-enough concentrations in the atmosphere or other oxidizing gaseous medium, such as pure oxygen.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said:
Police officers have today been working alongside colleagues in the fire and ambulance services following a major incident at Wessex Water’s Bristol water recycling centre in Avonmouth earlier today (Thursday 3 December).
Emergency services were called at approximately 11.20am to reports of a large explosion involving one of the chemical tanks at the site, off Kings Weston Lane.
The fire service led the rescue operation, but sadly despite the best efforts of all those involved, we can confirm there have been four fatalities. This includes three employees of Wessex Water and one contractor. Specially trained officers have this afternoon made contact with each of the families of those individuals and informed them of the sad news.
Chief Inspector Mark Runacres said: “This is a tragic incident and our thoughts and sympathies go out to them. Those officers will continue to provide them with all the support they need at this difficult time.
“A fifth person was also injured but their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
“A thorough investigation will be carried out into what happened today, involving a number of agencies and the health and safety executive in due course and we will not be speculating on the cause of the investigation while such work is being undertaken.
“What we can confirm though is this is not being treated as a terror-related incident. The explosion happened in a silo that holds treated biosolids before it is recycled to land as an organic soil conditioner. I can reassure people living in the nearby area that there is not believed to be any ongoing public safety concerns following today’s events.
“We do however urge members of the public to avoid the area if possible while this emergency operation is ongoing.
“I would finally like to pay tribute to all the emergency services who have assisted with today’s operation in incredibly difficult and challenging circumstances.”
Wessex Water Chief Executive Colin Skellett said: “We are absolutely devastated that the tragic incident at our site earlier today has resulted in four fatalities.
“Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of those involved.
“We are working with the Health and Safety Executive to understand what happened and why.”