Hydrofluoric acid, which can react with metals to create a highly flammable gas, was found to be stored in a wooden structure inside a building at a recent fire at a tyre factory in Daubhill.
According to reports in The Bolton News, emergency services were called to the Tyre Factory at the Sunnyside Business Centre on the 6th March at around 9.30am after fire broke out in a wooden structure which contained hydrofluoric acid which had heated up and emitted a toxic gas.
Fire crews managed to contain the blaze and prevent any injuries but staff’s breathing was affected and they had to be examined by the North West Ambulance Service.
Initially it was thought that the incident was a chemical fire caused by the acid, but a fire investigation later determined that it had been as a result of an electrical fault.
Hydrofluoric acid is an incredibly dangerous substance which is both toxic and corrosive and if it gets on the skin it can even kill you
“This story highlights the need for better education around the correct storage of corrosive substances,” explains Chemstore UK Managing Director, Mike Brodie.
“Hydrofluoric acid is an incredibly dangerous substance which is both toxic and corrosive and if it gets on the skin it can even kill you,” adds Mike.
“It is commonplace to hear of corrosives being stored in simple wooden structures or makeshift containers. Hydrofluoric acid should be handled and stored with the utmost care and attention in a purpose built, well-ventilated unit which includes a non-metallic sump such as the Corvault from Chemstore,” continues Mike.
“Beware of metal units which are marketed as suitable for storing corrosives but which don’t contain, for example, a polyethylene sump. In the event of a leak, hydrofluoric acid can react with metal and create a highly flammable (Hydrogen) and toxic gas. Also carefully consider whether a container with an epoxy coated liner is adequate because although these offer a degree of protection, they are not necessarily suitable for long term exposure,” adds Mike.
An easy way to clarify what a corrosive substance should be stored in is to check that this Secondary Containment System (SCS) is made from the same material that the primary container is made from. Useful information for corrosives storage can be found within our free corrosive hub checklist.