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Southend University Hospital re-opens evacuated wards

14 December 2016

Health Care

From 14.00 today Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will reopen the ward areas closed since the diesel fuel spill yesterday.

The Trust is undertaking a full investigation of the incident. The leak came from a 1000 litre fuel tank linked to the Trust's heating system, which ensures a gas or diesel option for the boilers is available to ensure a constant heating service is provided to patients in the Cardigan Building in the hospital.

Jan China, Director of Estates and Facilities Management, said: "We are continuing with our urgent investigation of the cause and impact of yesterday's diesel fuel leak.

"The diesel fuel in the top floor plant room is essential to ensure that we can provide continuous heating for our patient areas should the primary gas system fail, and is standard practice.

"We have worked closely with the Environment Agency and a Specialist Contractor, who we called to assist us at the time of the incident yesterday, and have cleaned up the spill which has reduced the strong odour.

"We were made aware rapidly yesterday that some diesel fuel from the spill had entered the Prittle Brook. Boom barriers have been put in place along the Brook to minimise the immediate impact and the clean-up is in progress.

"Our top priority now is to ensure that we continue to effectively manage the consequences of the spill but we will obviously assess the financial impact of the incident once the clean-up is complete.

"Our staff and partner agencies responded fantastically to the incident, and all agreed that the emergency plan worked very well."

Jon Findlay, Chief Operating Officer, said: "Having closely monitored the affected areas, we are now satisfied that the unpleasant odour resulting from the spill has mostly dissipated and the environment is suitable for the return of patients and staff.

"As we said yesterday, planned appointments and surgeries are going ahead, and patients should attend unless they hear from us directly.

"I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in helping us manage the incident yesterday; the Fire Service and Environment Agency; our colleagues at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust; the East of England Ambulance Trust and of course our own staff.

"I would also like to express my thanks to patients and visitors for their cooperation and support during the incident. It will take us a few days to rearrange appointments that had to be cancelled at short notice as a consequence of the incident so I would ask for your patience during this time."