Coca-Cola factory evacuated after late night acid leak sparks panic

Around 200 employees at a Coca-Cola factory were forced to evacuate after an acid leak at a plant.

The incident took place at a factory in Sidcup, south-east London yesterday (Wednesday, January 18).

Fire services were called at around 8.30pm after a leak of hydrochloric acid was detected.

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It forced the closure of a main road in both directions between the A223 Crittals Corner and A211 Sidcup Hill.

The leak was contained at around 11.30pm with services handing back the cleanup job to onsite management at 5.26am.

Firefighters remained at the scene throughout the night to take readings of any harmful gases being released into the air.

No injuries have been reported.

A statement by the London Fire Brigade said: "We were called to a leak of hydrochloric acid at 20:39 on Wednesday evening. Two hundred people were evacuated from the factory before we arrived.

"There was no evacuation of residents, and no-one was treated by emergency services. We are not aware of any advice to close windows and doors."

Gas leaks in factories are not uncommon.

In 2021, a chemical leak in Leicestershire affected 23 employees, with seven hospitalised.

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It was later established that a chlorine gas cloud had ripped through the factory, forcing the evacuation of 450 people from the premises.

Incident commander Terry Wildgoose said at the time: "A number had to receive first aid treatment due to exposure, some have gone to hospital. But the majority have been told to self present if they have any further symptoms."

But that was not as bad as an incident in 2016 where a factory worker was killed and 22 others injured after a gas leak at a Carlsberg brewery.

Carlsberg UK chief executive officer Julian Momen said: "We are deeply, deeply saddened by today's tragic incident and subsequent fatality.

"Our immediate thoughts are with the individual's family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time and we will support them in every way we can."

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