On January 2nd 2009, a serious chemical fire occurred at Rhodia’s Trinity Street site.

The investigation into this and the subsequent prosecution appears to have taken 7 (SEVEN) years which is quite astonishing, but today it was revealed that the company now rebranded as “Solvay” have been fined a whopping £500,000 at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court.

Though this is quite a bit of money, to this firm it is veritable chicken feed. I am aware that they were trying to wriggle out of it, but appear to have finally accepted “Guilt”.

I have been asking for the report into this incident for quite some time, and have now submitted what I hope to be the final request that will release this document.

It is stated in The Express and Star article that phosphoric acid was released, yet this is not quite correct given the reports at the time concerning white phosphorus- phosphorus pentoxide converting to phosphoric acid on contact with water.

When white phosphorus is exposed to air it spontaneously forms fumes of phosphorus (v) oxide which is represented by the following equation

P4(SOLID) + 5O2(GAS) → P4O10(SOLID)

Phosphorus pentoxide reacts violently with water to form phosphoric acid.

The reaction produces first the intermediate product metaphosphoric acid, then polyphosphoric acid, and then finally the end product orthophosphoric acid (H3PO4):

The statement made by Solvay’s QC is technically correct in name only, given that at the time of this atrocious health and safety failure they were Rhodia UK Limited, and not “Solvay”. Rhodia, (then known as “Rhodia Consumer Specialities Limited” HAVE been fined previously for dishonestly delaying a report of a chemical spill of the same chemical reported here- phosphoric acid.

This is the same site, and the same Health and Safety officer in charge at the site. Oh how easy PR merchants can spin a line concerning the same chemical factory under a different disguise- just like the smokescreen of white phosphorus that is – the chemical concerned here.

I’m sure that there will be quite a bit of fallout from this, and the same bollocks coming from some of their seasoned apologists of the political class.


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