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Storage plant chemical leak keeps Victorian port closed

Posted on 20 February 2012
A chemical spill at a storage plant in Portland, which forced residents indoors, is expected to keep the port closed on Monday.

The port in Victoria's southwest, which caters for fertilisers, grains and woodchip, as well as the huge Alcoa smelter, will have a skeleton staff until the leak is plugged.

Twenty five firefighters have been working to contain the leak, which spilled from a storage tank at the liquid pitch facility at the port.

Residents were told that they should call an ambulance if they could smell vapours with a smell like hot bitumen and were experiencing headaches or shortness of breath.

The emergency started about 3pm (AEDT) on Saturday when an outlet pipe attached to a 3000-tonne tank ruptured.

Within two hours, 250 tonnes of pitch, which was heated to 200C, had spilled.

The liquid was contained to a sealed area.

Firefighters used water to try to cool the chemicals, while sandbags had been brought in to contain the spill.

It would take two to three days until the problem was resolved.

Favourable weather pushed the vapours out into the bay and away from populated areas.

Fire Authority spokesman Brendan Gordon said the leak was not expected to affect businesses or schools.

Source: Industry Search

Tags: Absorbents Chemical Spills

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