January 2, 2009 / 4:20 PM / 11 years ago

Fire breaks out at Rhodia British chemicals plant

LONDON, Jan 2 (Reuters) - A fire broke out on Friday at a British plant owned by French speciality chemicals maker Rhodia RHA.PA, sending a cloud of phosphorus into the air, police said.

West Midlands Fire and Rescue said the fire was at a plant in Oldbury near Birmingham, central England.

Police said the fire was under control and no one had been injured, but they warned people living in the area to keep doors and windows closed because the fire had sent up a thick, low-hanging cloud of phosphorus.

Phosphorus can cause eye irritation, sore throats and shortness of breath as well as skin rashes, the police said.

A spokesman for Rhodia UK Ltd confirmed there had been an incident but said he could give no details.

A West Midlands Fire and Rescue spokesman said there had been a leak from a process using phosphorus.

“It is causing a small fire as phosphorus reacts with air,” he said.

The leak could take up to three hours to repair, he added.

According to Rhodia’s website, the company’s manufacturing site at Oldbury makes phosphorus derivatives used in industry and processing markets. It is one of two manufacturing plants the company has in Britain. (Reporting by Adrian Croft, Mark Potter, Avril Ormsby; Editing by Katie Nguyen)

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