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Update on major incident in Avonmouth

Police officers have been working alongside colleagues in the fire and ambulance services following a major incident at Wessex Water’s Bristol water recycling centre in Avonmouth earlier today (Thursday 3 December).

Emergency services were called at approximately 11.20am to reports of a large explosion involving one of the chemical tanks at the site, off Kings Weston Lane.

The fire service led the rescue operation, but sadly despite the best efforts of all those involved, we can confirm there have been four fatalities. This includes three employees of Wessex Water and one contractor. Specially trained officers have this afternoon made contact with each of the families of those individuals and informed them of the sad news.

Chief Inspector Mark Runacres said: “This is a tragic incident and our thoughts and sympathies go out to them. Those officers will continue to provide them with all the support they need at this difficult time.

“A fifth person was also injured but their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

“A thorough investigation will be carried out into what happened today, involving a number of agencies and the health and safety executive in due course and we will not be speculating on the cause of the explosion while such work is being undertaken.

“What we can confirm though is this is not being treated as terror-related incident. The explosion happened in a silo that holds treated biosolids before it is recycled to land as an organic soil conditioner. I can reassure people living in the nearby area that there is not believed to be any ongoing public safety concerns following today’s events.

“We do however urge members of the public to avoid the area if possible while this emergency operation is ongoing.

“I would finally like to pay tribute to all the emergency services who have assisted with today’s operation in incredibly difficult and challenging circumstances.”

Wessex Water Chief Executive Colin Skellett said: “We are absolutely devastated that the tragic incident at our site earlier today has resulted in four fatalities.

“Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of those involved.

“We are working with the Health and Safety Executive to understand what happened and why.”

PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “My thoughts are with the loved ones of the four people who lost their lives in the devastating explosion in Avonmouth today.

“The families of those people, who were working at Wessex Water’s Bristol water recycling centre, have suffered a tragic loss and the impact of this awful incident will be felt by their colleagues and the wider community in Bristol.

“I’d like to thank the valiant efforts of the emergency services in attendance including our police officers, firefighters and paramedics, who contended with difficult circumstances when responding to this terrible tragedy.”

Bristol City Mayor, Marvin Rees, added: “Tragically, four people who were working at the site have lost their lives, and the thoughts of our city is with their families at this heart-breaking time.

“This has already been such a challenging year, and this news of further loss of life is another terrible blow. As a city we will mourn for them.

“Local residents may be concerned about safety in the area. Wessex Water, police and fire have assured us the incident is contained, and there is no risk to your safety.

“However we would urge you to keep roads around the site as clear as possible so our emergency teams can do their vital work.

“Thank you to the emergency services for doing their very best in challenging circumstances.”