Urgent talks over ICI chemical leaks

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Environment Agency officials are seeking urgent talks with the senior management of ICI over chemical leaks, the agency announced yesterday.

The move follows separate chemical leaks within hours of each other at two ICI plants. In the first incident roads were closed and residents told to stay indoors when highly inflammable naptha gas escaped from the Seal Sands site, at Seaton Carew, Cleveland, at 4am on Sunday. Three-and- a-half hours later there was a spill involving the dry-cleaning chemical trichloroethylene at the ICI plant in Runcorn, in Cheshire. The chemical spilled into a nearby canal.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated incident, thousands of fish died in a stretch of the Medway Estuary between New Hythe and Wouldham in Kent on Sunday, after a river was polluted by a mystery substance, the Environment Agency said yesterday. "We are treating this as a Category One incident - the most serious," an agency spokesman said.