Wildern School in Hedge End closed after mustard gas leak

Daily Echo: School closed after chemical leak School closed after chemical leak

HIGHLY-toxic mustard gas leaked into a Hampshire school this morning, causing it to be evacuated and closed.

The chemical spillage happened at Wildern School in Wildern Lane, Hedge End, because of a burst pipe.

It is understood that chlorine from the school's swimming pool mixed with another chemical and caused mustard gas, which can cause severe burns, to be produced.

No children were in the school at the time, but staff were evacuated when the leak was discovered, shortly after 7am this morning.

Pupils turning up for school were directed to the furthest building away from where the spill happened and arrangements were made to send them home.

No one was injured by the gas, but an ambulance was called as a precaution.

The school, which has 1855 pupils, will be shut for the day.

Firefighters donned specialist chemical suits to deal with the spill, and experts have been called in to assist the school with a full clean up.

Headteacher Mary-Lou Litton said: "We had a burst pipe in the plant area which has mixed with something and lead to a chemical reaction which has produced some mustard gas.

"A member of staff noticed first thing this morning - it obviously happened over night.

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"Fortunately we've got wonderful systems in place to deal with this kind of thing and the emergency services have been fantastic."

The school, which is a co-educational comprehensive, is still assessing the situation, but expects to reopen on Monday.

Comments (21)

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9:48am Fri 9 Dec 11

dango says...

"specialist police officers"? Oh well, hope they can pool their resources.
"specialist police officers"? Oh well, hope they can pool their resources. dango

10:17am Fri 9 Dec 11

AndyAndrews says...

The usual over-reaction by the health and safety brigade.
The usual over-reaction by the health and safety brigade. AndyAndrews

10:41am Fri 9 Dec 11

hulla baloo says...

Considering it was used as a poison by the German army in WW1, and the fact that a school is involved,why do you consider this an over-reaction?
Considering it was used as a poison by the German army in WW1, and the fact that a school is involved,why do you consider this an over-reaction? hulla baloo

10:41am Fri 9 Dec 11

Torchie1 says...

It sounds as though Headteacher Mary-Lou Litton doesn't have a deep knowledge of chemistry.
It sounds as though Headteacher Mary-Lou Litton doesn't have a deep knowledge of chemistry. Torchie1

10:45am Fri 9 Dec 11

Torchie1 says...

hulla baloo wrote:
Considering it was used as a poison by the German army in WW1, and the fact that a school is involved,why do you consider this an over-reaction?
In the second half of WW1, the British used far more poison gas that the Germans because the facilities existed for far higher production.
[quote][p][bold]hulla baloo[/bold] wrote: Considering it was used as a poison by the German army in WW1, and the fact that a school is involved,why do you consider this an over-reaction?[/p][/quote]In the second half of WW1, the British used far more poison gas that the Germans because the facilities existed for far higher production. Torchie1

10:46am Fri 9 Dec 11

forest hump says...

Total sensationalism. Little bit of bleach mixing with "something?"...try air. Pongs a bit but not a real issue
Total sensationalism. Little bit of bleach mixing with "something?"...try air. Pongs a bit but not a real issue forest hump

2:21pm Fri 9 Dec 11

Mum_of_2 says...

Sorry, but surely in a situation like this it is better to be safe than sorry. If this article had read that the leak had injured children you would all be critisicing the school and emergency services. They cant win in some of your opinions. I am glad they were cautious.
Sorry, but surely in a situation like this it is better to be safe than sorry. If this article had read that the leak had injured children you would all be critisicing the school and emergency services. They cant win in some of your opinions. I am glad they were cautious. Mum_of_2

3:27pm Fri 9 Dec 11

fedupwithidiots says...

forest hump wrote:
Total sensationalism. Little bit of bleach mixing with "something?"...
try air. Pongs a bit but not a real issue
I think you might be under estimating the potential seriousness of the incident! If 2 of the chemicals that are used to keep the pool clean mix out of water then they become deadly, hence the fire brigade taking such precautions! So Forest Hump, back in your box!
[quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: Total sensationalism. Little bit of bleach mixing with "something?"... try air. Pongs a bit but not a real issue[/p][/quote]I think you might be under estimating the potential seriousness of the incident! If 2 of the chemicals that are used to keep the pool clean mix out of water then they become deadly, hence the fire brigade taking such precautions! So Forest Hump, back in your box! fedupwithidiots

4:18pm Fri 9 Dec 11

chrisdemeanour says...

I think they should have evacuated everyone for three miles and closed the M27 for about 4 hours.
I think they should have evacuated everyone for three miles and closed the M27 for about 4 hours. chrisdemeanour

5:17pm Fri 9 Dec 11

Paramjit Bahia says...

Mum_of_2 wrote:
Sorry, but surely in a situation like this it is better to be safe than sorry. If this article had read that the leak had injured children you would all be critisicing the school and emergency services. They cant win in some of your opinions. I am glad they were cautious.
Very true
.
Head teacher made the right decision deserves appreciation.
[quote][p][bold]Mum_of_2[/bold] wrote: Sorry, but surely in a situation like this it is better to be safe than sorry. If this article had read that the leak had injured children you would all be critisicing the school and emergency services. They cant win in some of your opinions. I am glad they were cautious.[/p][/quote]Very true . Head teacher made the right decision deserves appreciation. Paramjit Bahia

5:29pm Fri 9 Dec 11

lisaholbury says...

hmmmmm over reaction????? maybe but only scientists can only be the ones to tell us if it could be harmful but making sure the kids werent there was the best decission and certainly not an over reaction.

AT LEAST NO ONE WAS HURT!!!!!
hmmmmm over reaction????? maybe but only scientists can only be the ones to tell us if it could be harmful but making sure the kids werent there was the best decission and certainly not an over reaction. AT LEAST NO ONE WAS HURT!!!!! lisaholbury

5:44pm Fri 9 Dec 11

Totton Tim says...

I think that it was chlorine released and not mustard gas...a lot less nasty - but even so, the school still did the right thing in sending the children home
I think that it was chlorine released and not mustard gas...a lot less nasty - but even so, the school still did the right thing in sending the children home Totton Tim

6:59pm Fri 9 Dec 11

X Old Bill says...

An fairly easy mistake to make - Mustard gas and Chlorine gas are both slightly yellow - but if you are that close and not wearing a respirator you should be able to smell it!
Mustard gas contains atoms of chlorine but the manufacturing process is a long way from accidental.
I believe that most swimming pool treatment plants use sodium hypochlorite rather than pure chlorine.
While pure chlorine gas dissolves in water it tends to react with skin and hair and can be very unpleasant if swallowed.
I would guess that one of two things has occurred:
The sodium hypochlorite has reacted with something to release chlorine gas - In high concentrations, when inhaled, chlorine dissolves inside the body and makes an acidic compound.
OR; The sodium hypochlorite has reacted with cleaning chemicals and produced a toxic volatile compound (but not mustard gas).
.
Chlorine was the gas mainly used by the British in WW1 and they only started to use mustard gas when they captured German stockpiles.
An fairly easy mistake to make - Mustard gas and Chlorine gas are both slightly yellow - but if you are that close and not wearing a respirator you should be able to smell it! Mustard gas contains atoms of chlorine but the manufacturing process is a long way from accidental. I believe that most swimming pool treatment plants use sodium hypochlorite rather than pure chlorine. While pure chlorine gas dissolves in water it tends to react with skin and hair and can be very unpleasant if swallowed. I would guess that one of two things has occurred: The sodium hypochlorite has reacted with something to release chlorine gas - In high concentrations, when inhaled, chlorine dissolves inside the body and makes an acidic compound. OR; The sodium hypochlorite has reacted with cleaning chemicals and produced a toxic volatile compound (but not mustard gas). . Chlorine was the gas mainly used by the British in WW1 and they only started to use mustard gas when they captured German stockpiles. X Old Bill

9:35pm Fri 9 Dec 11

forest hump says...

fedupwithidiots wrote:
forest hump wrote: Total sensationalism. Little bit of bleach mixing with "something?"... try air. Pongs a bit but not a real issue
I think you might be under estimating the potential seriousness of the incident! If 2 of the chemicals that are used to keep the pool clean mix out of water then they become deadly, hence the fire brigade taking such precautions! So Forest Hump, back in your box!
Deadly....please! Go study chemistry! My box is nice and comfy thank you.
[quote][p][bold]fedupwithidiots[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: Total sensationalism. Little bit of bleach mixing with "something?"... try air. Pongs a bit but not a real issue[/p][/quote]I think you might be under estimating the potential seriousness of the incident! If 2 of the chemicals that are used to keep the pool clean mix out of water then they become deadly, hence the fire brigade taking such precautions! So Forest Hump, back in your box![/p][/quote]Deadly....please! Go study chemistry! My box is nice and comfy thank you. forest hump

10:28am Sat 10 Dec 11

Cookiequeen3 says...

But there were children there because people were swimming and had to be evacuated.
But there were children there because people were swimming and had to be evacuated. Cookiequeen3

5:13pm Sat 10 Dec 11

markofhants says...

Typical panic headline from a provicial newspaper.... a gas leak and random prescence of another chemical cannot produce Mustard Gas - that is made in a laboratory or factory not by happenstance..
Typical panic headline from a provicial newspaper.... a gas leak and random prescence of another chemical cannot produce Mustard Gas - that is made in a laboratory or factory not by happenstance.. markofhants

10:49am Sun 11 Dec 11

Scrutinizer says...

It makes perfect sense to take the precautions which were taken. And I'm sure the emergency services were fine about being called out. The school authorities have a responsibility and obligation to ensure the building is safe for their children, staff and visitors to occupy. But even if a situation like this turns out to be perfectly non-harmful it serves as a useful 'excercise' for the emergency services. As they say, "better safe than sorry".
It makes perfect sense to take the precautions which were taken. And I'm sure the emergency services were fine about being called out. The school authorities have a responsibility and obligation to ensure the building is safe for their children, staff and visitors to occupy. But even if a situation like this turns out to be perfectly non-harmful it serves as a useful 'excercise' for the emergency services. As they say, "better safe than sorry". Scrutinizer

7:51pm Sun 11 Dec 11

Sir Ad E Noid says...

The use of liquid chlorine is strictly regulated. I doubt the school or any other pool for that matter would be allowed chlorine to be used in liquid form. Sodium Hypochlorite in concentrated form really pongs and if you spill it the surface area for evaporation increases making the situation worse. As soon as I heard mustard gas I ran for the shelter with my respirator. Maybe they overacted, maybe they didn't.
The use of liquid chlorine is strictly regulated. I doubt the school or any other pool for that matter would be allowed chlorine to be used in liquid form. Sodium Hypochlorite in concentrated form really pongs and if you spill it the surface area for evaporation increases making the situation worse. As soon as I heard mustard gas I ran for the shelter with my respirator. Maybe they overacted, maybe they didn't. Sir Ad E Noid

7:57pm Sun 11 Dec 11

Sir Ad E Noid says...

How you make sodium hydrochlorite:

Today, an improved version of this method, known as the Hooker process, is the only large scale industrial method of sodium hypochlorite production. In the process, sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) and sodium chloride (NaCl) are formed when chlorine is passed into cold and dilute sodium hydroxide solution. It is prepared industrially by electrolysis with minimal separation between the anode and the cathode. The solution must be kept below 40 °C (by cooling coils) to prevent the undesired formation of sodium chlorate.

And if you got your heads around that, try this:

Household bleach sold for use in laundering clothes is a 3-6% solution of sodium hypochlorite at the time of manufacture. Strength varies from one formulation to another and gradually decreases with long storage.
A 12% solution is widely used in waterworks for the chlorination of water, and a 15% solution is more commonly used for disinfection of waste water in treatment plants. Sodium hypochlorite can also be used for point-of-use disinfection of drinking water. Taken off the net.
How you make sodium hydrochlorite: Today, an improved version of this method, known as the Hooker process, is the only large scale industrial method of sodium hypochlorite production. In the process, sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) and sodium chloride (NaCl) are formed when chlorine is passed into cold and dilute sodium hydroxide solution. It is prepared industrially by electrolysis with minimal separation between the anode and the cathode. The solution must be kept below 40 °C (by cooling coils) to prevent the undesired formation of sodium chlorate. And if you got your heads around that, try this: Household bleach sold for use in laundering clothes is a 3-6% solution of sodium hypochlorite at the time of manufacture. Strength varies from one formulation to another and gradually decreases with long storage. A 12% solution is widely used in waterworks for the chlorination of water, and a 15% solution is more commonly used for disinfection of waste water in treatment plants. Sodium hypochlorite can also be used for point-of-use disinfection of drinking water. Taken off the net. Sir Ad E Noid

8:05pm Sun 11 Dec 11

Scrutinizer says...

Sir Ad E Noid wrote:
How you make sodium hydrochlorite: Today, an improved version of this method, known as the Hooker process, is the only large scale industrial method of sodium hypochlorite production. In the process, sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) and sodium chloride (NaCl) are formed when chlorine is passed into cold and dilute sodium hydroxide solution. It is prepared industrially by electrolysis with minimal separation between the anode and the cathode. The solution must be kept below 40 °C (by cooling coils) to prevent the undesired formation of sodium chlorate. And if you got your heads around that, try this: Household bleach sold for use in laundering clothes is a 3-6% solution of sodium hypochlorite at the time of manufacture. Strength varies from one formulation to another and gradually decreases with long storage. A 12% solution is widely used in waterworks for the chlorination of water, and a 15% solution is more commonly used for disinfection of waste water in treatment plants. Sodium hypochlorite can also be used for point-of-use disinfection of drinking water. Taken off the net.
Speak English, Doc, we ain't scientists! ;-)
[quote][p][bold]Sir Ad E Noid[/bold] wrote: How you make sodium hydrochlorite: Today, an improved version of this method, known as the Hooker process, is the only large scale industrial method of sodium hypochlorite production. In the process, sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) and sodium chloride (NaCl) are formed when chlorine is passed into cold and dilute sodium hydroxide solution. It is prepared industrially by electrolysis with minimal separation between the anode and the cathode. The solution must be kept below 40 °C (by cooling coils) to prevent the undesired formation of sodium chlorate. And if you got your heads around that, try this: Household bleach sold for use in laundering clothes is a 3-6% solution of sodium hypochlorite at the time of manufacture. Strength varies from one formulation to another and gradually decreases with long storage. A 12% solution is widely used in waterworks for the chlorination of water, and a 15% solution is more commonly used for disinfection of waste water in treatment plants. Sodium hypochlorite can also be used for point-of-use disinfection of drinking water. Taken off the net.[/p][/quote]Speak English, Doc, we ain't scientists! ;-) Scrutinizer

8:20pm Sun 11 Dec 11

X Old Bill says...

Scrutinizer wrote:
Sir Ad E Noid wrote:
How you make sodium hydrochlorite: Today, an improved version of this method, known as the Hooker process, is the only large scale industrial method of sodium hypochlorite production. In the process, sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) and sodium chloride (NaCl) are formed when chlorine is passed into cold and dilute sodium hydroxide solution. It is prepared industrially by electrolysis with minimal separation between the anode and the cathode. The solution must be kept below 40 °C (by cooling coils) to prevent the undesired formation of sodium chlorate. And if you got your heads around that, try this: Household bleach sold for use in laundering clothes is a 3-6% solution of sodium hypochlorite at the time of manufacture. Strength varies from one formulation to another and gradually decreases with long storage. A 12% solution is widely used in waterworks for the chlorination of water, and a 15% solution is more commonly used for disinfection of waste water in treatment plants. Sodium hypochlorite can also be used for point-of-use disinfection of drinking water. Taken off the net.
Speak English, Doc, we ain't scientists! ;-)
Using the internet - isn't that cheating?
At least I use books to assist my memory.
I have heard that a pump or two is needing to be replaced - that could suggest a joint or gland broke and allowed a simple leakage of sodium hypochlorite from the system inside the plant room.
.
I always used to be amused by the old bleach adverts which claimed that the product 'Kills 99% of all known household germs' - What about the 1%, and What about the 'unknown' germs? What if the germs are not house-trained?
[quote][p][bold]Scrutinizer[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sir Ad E Noid[/bold] wrote: How you make sodium hydrochlorite: Today, an improved version of this method, known as the Hooker process, is the only large scale industrial method of sodium hypochlorite production. In the process, sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) and sodium chloride (NaCl) are formed when chlorine is passed into cold and dilute sodium hydroxide solution. It is prepared industrially by electrolysis with minimal separation between the anode and the cathode. The solution must be kept below 40 °C (by cooling coils) to prevent the undesired formation of sodium chlorate. And if you got your heads around that, try this: Household bleach sold for use in laundering clothes is a 3-6% solution of sodium hypochlorite at the time of manufacture. Strength varies from one formulation to another and gradually decreases with long storage. A 12% solution is widely used in waterworks for the chlorination of water, and a 15% solution is more commonly used for disinfection of waste water in treatment plants. Sodium hypochlorite can also be used for point-of-use disinfection of drinking water. Taken off the net.[/p][/quote]Speak English, Doc, we ain't scientists! ;-)[/p][/quote]Using the internet - isn't that cheating? At least I use books to assist my memory. I have heard that a pump or two is needing to be replaced - that could suggest a joint or gland broke and allowed a simple leakage of sodium hypochlorite from the system inside the plant room. . I always used to be amused by the old bleach adverts which claimed that the product 'Kills 99% of all known household germs' - What about the 1%, and What about the 'unknown' germs? What if the germs are not house-trained? X Old Bill

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