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Chemical spill in Greater Manchester causes headache for United Utilities

By Dean 22 April 2011

Water company United Utilities have been left with a hefty bill after thousands of gallons of the chemical xylene made its way into Greater Manchester’s waste water system.

The chemical, which was spilled when thieves tried to steal a HGV tanker cab, is highly toxic and flammable. The water company are considering prosecuting after it turned into a gelatinous substance upon entering the city’s sewer network. The incident happened at the end of February but United Utilities are still trying to turn the substance back into a solution that can be removed using pumps.

Xylene is a solvent that is used in rubber and printing industries. The vapour from the leaked substance is continuing to be extracted using a special extraction device.

United Utilities wastewater manager, Ian Fullalove, stated:

"The cost of this clean-up and the expertise and effort involved are probably unimaginable to the culprits who dumped the material when the tanker was stolen.

"Our legal team are working hard behind the scenes and we will bring a prosecution if possible."

The thieves actually opened a valve on a tanker to let the contents out. Xylene can cause a multitude of health related problems including headaches and confusion.

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