Nine taken ill after council office chemical alert

 

Fire crews investigating the cause of a suspected chemical leak at a council office that left nine people needing medical treatment have found no trace of any chemicals that could have caused the problem.

The Essex County Council building in The Crescent, Colchester, was evacuated this morning after reports of around a dozen people feeling ill.

It is the second time in less than a fortnight that the building has had a suspected chemical leak - it was first cleared by authorities on June 29 after reports of people falling unwell and reporting a strange smell.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said that shortly after the incident this morning nine people were given oxygen therapy and all other persons were accounted for.

Crews entered the building this afternoon to try and find the reason for the problem but have said there is no definitive cause.

A statement from the Fire Service said: "Crews have now conducted their final tests inside the building with the air-conditioning system running and found no sign of any chemical which could have caused the problem.

"The building remains empty and staff will not return for at least 48 hours.

"Fire officers are now leaving the scene in the hands of the Health Protection Agency."

A spokeswoman for Essex County Council said the building would now be closed until it was found to be safe and a review would be carried out.

She said: "Essex County Fire & Rescue Service has confirmed there is no indication of what the cause of today's incident might have been.

"Despite the building being handed back to us we see the health and safety of our staff as paramount and have taken the decision to close the building until we can reassure our staff that it is a safe place to work.

"A complete and independent review will now be undertaken.

"To minimise disruption to our customer's telephone calls, and as part of our business continuity plans, an alternative contact centre will be in place tomorrow from 9am to 5pm.

"Residents should check our website for up to date information about the contact centre opening times."

A specialist Detection Identification and Monitoring (Dim) vehicle from Epping - on its first emergency incident - was sent to the scene to assist in identifying the chemical involved.

Ambulance crews, specialist officers and the trusts hazardous area response team (Hart) were sent to the council office to deal with the incident after being alerted to a report of several people taken unwell at 10.40am, the East of England Ambulance Service said.

Assistant Divisional Officer Steve Foster said earlier: "Our crews treated nine people, all of whom were complaining of a bad smell, a feeling of nausea and metallic taste in their mouth. We gave all of them oxygen therapy."

A spokeswoman for Essex County Council said the cause of the incident last month was unknown and the building was declared safe 48 hours after it happened.

She said: "We can confirm that Essex House has been evacuated today following reports of employees feeling unwell.

"Emergency services are on the scene and responsible for leading initial investigations into this incident. We are aware of 11 members of staff currently being assessed.

"We are committed to making sure that our staff work in a safe and healthy environment and when emergency services dealt with the last incident, along with a specialist detection team, there was no indication of what the cause might have been - the building was handed back to Essex County Council by the emergency services 48 hours later, and was declared safe for employees to enter.

"We recognise this is the second incident that has occurred at Essex House in the last month and would like to reiterate that the health and safety of our staff is paramount at all times.

"We are taking necessary measures to ensure minimal disruption to our customers' telephone calls, with business continuity procedures currently in place.

"We would ask that emergency services as well as our own ECC teams are allowed to assess the situation and we will, of course update with further information and advice as soon as it is available."

PA

Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Sport
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice