Posted: Fri 3rd May 2024

Synthite fire: Public urged to avoid River Alyn and keep animals away from the water after 50 dead fish found

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales


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People have been urged to avoid areas around the River Alyn in Mold and keep animals away from the water after around 50 fish were found dead.

The warning comes after a blaze at a chemical factory in Mold earlier this week.

A multi-agency response to the fire at the Synthite site on Denbigh Road is continuing, Natural Resources Wales has said.

Firefighters remain at the scene; however, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service operations are now scaling down as the fire is suppressed.

Firefighters were called just after 2 pm to the Synthite chemical manufacturing site on Tuesday.

Residents in the area were urged to keep their doors and windows closed as explosions could be heard at the chemical plant, which manufactures formaldehyde.

The roads surrounding the site have remained closed since the incident began on Tuesday.

In a statement to the media, Synthite said, “no chemicals were released” during the blaze at its factory.

However, traces of formaldehyde have been found in the River Alyn, according to Natural Resources Wales.

A Synthite spokesperson said: “The fire was contained to a production facility and adjacent storage area. No chemicals were released during or after the incident, with frequent air monitoring in place.

“As the incident was contained to the site and no chemicals were released, there was no requirement to sound our siren.

“One employee was treated for shock and taken to hospital and released last night (Tuesday), and we are supporting them accordingly.”

“Operations on site are paused while we wait for the all-clear from the fire service.

“We would like to thank our workforce for their swift actions to raise the alarm as quickly as possible while ensuring all site personnel were evacuated safely and all plant operations shut down.

“We also thank local residents for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

“A joint investigation with the fire service to understand the cause of the fire will be carried out in due course.”

Photogrpahs and video posted on social media show a number of dead fish in the River Alyn.

Lyndsey Rawlinson from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) said:

“The multi-agency approach continues as we monitor and try to minimise the impact on the community and environment. Officers remain on site as part of the ongoing operation.

“We can confirm that around 50 dead fish have been found. Further samples will now be taken from around the site and further downstream to be analysed.

“We will take any necessary action needed to identify and mitigate any impacts downstream.

“As a precaution, we’re asking people not to go near the River Alyn and to also keep animals away from the water.

“Multi-agencies will continue to work together to minimise the impact on the community and environment.”

While their statement makes no mention of chemicals found in the river, correspondence from Natural Resources Wales to the office of Delyn MP Rob Roberts states: “During our sampling of the River Alyn, we detected that formaldehyde was present in the river.”

An email seen by Deeside.com, which has been sent to a concerned constituent by a senior caseworker in the Delyn MP’s office, contained a “short update” for the parliament member by NRW.

It states: “I wanted to take the opportunity to provide a short update following the fire at Synthite earlier this week as I appreciate you and your constituents will have concerns.

“The Fire and Rescue Service are still on site putting out what remains of the fire.

“During our sampling of the River Alyn, we detected that formaldehyde was present in the river. Although the Fire and Rescue Service had been containing all the fire water, clearly the chemical was still getting into the river from the site and investigations are ongoing to determine the point(s) of entry.

“To ensure no further pollutants get into the river, all fire water is now being tankered off site.

“We have stood up a Tactical Coordination Group (TCG) who are meeting regularly to manage the incident.

“There is a significant resource from several organisations helping to manage and mitigate the impacts and to warn and inform those along the river who may be impacted.

“In particular, we are working closely with the water companies who abstract water from the River Dee, as well as advising the public to stay away from the river as a precaution.

“We will also contact farmers, landowners, and other river users who use the river for various purposes to advise them of the risk.

“We will continue to sample around the clock until we are satisfied the pollutant has worked through the river and no longer poses a threat.

“Whilst we deal with the incident, we may not be able to respond as quickly to specific questions and queries you have, but we will ensure we provide fuller responses to your queries once the risk has reduced.”

The name of the person and their position within Natural Resources Wales has not been supplied with the email, we have reached out to Rob Roberts office.

North Wales Police and North Wales Fire and Rescue Service are assisting the Health and Safety Executive with their investigation into the incident.

[Main photo: Caroline Dawson]

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