Fire crews have been sent to a chemical explosion at a chlorine scrubbing plant in West Thurrock which shook nearby houses.
Local residents were urged to stay indoors and keep their doors and windows closed after a strong smell of chlorine was reported at Industrial Chemicals Ltd, on Stoneness Road, at about 8pm on Thursday evening.
However, crews said there appeared to have been an explosion in the chlorine scrubbing unit, which led to a leak of caustic soda liquid.
Fire Service Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick said that after an assessment by specialists, it was found that there was no risk to the public.
“We have had assurances from chemical experts on site that there is no risk to the public,” he said.
“A small tank of diluted caustic soda exploded and the contents drained away into an interception tank and was contained on site.”
One man suffered minor injuries to his shin and was treated at the scene by firefighters. There are no reports of any serious casualties, Essex Police said.
Police closed Oliver Road in both directions while work was carried out to make the site safe.
The Health and Safety Executive has been informed and an investigation is under way by the relevant authorities to establish the cause of the blast.
A number of people reported on social networking site Twitter that the explosion “shook houses” and could be heard as far away as Aveley, Corringham and Bexleyheath in Kent.
At 9.30pm, a spokesman for Essex Police said on the force’s Twitter feed: “Explosion caused loud bang at chemical plant in Stoneness Road West Thurrock about one hour ago. Strong chlorine smell in area.”
Daniel Campbell, of London Road, said on Twitter: “Our house shook. Sounded like a bomb went off. Everyone in the street was out to see what happened.”
Kirsty_xo said: “Chlorine gas explosion in Thurrock. Made the doors shake at work!”
Eunice, also on the social networking site, said at 8.15pm: “Something has just gone bang in west Thurrock. Thought my front door was being kicked in.”
Industrial Chemicals Ltd supply water treatment chemicals, flocculants and detergents to a variety of industries across the UK and Europe.