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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Port is reopened after gas leak
Fawley refinery

A busy Hampshire port had to be closed overnight after a gas leak on board a tanker at an oil refinery.

Southampton port was shut when a faulty valve caused a leak on Tuesday evening on a tanker taking liquid propane gas from Fawley oil refinery.

There were fears the gas could ignite and the port was closed to all shipping after a gas cloud formed.

The port was re-opened on Wednesday morning but a 400m exclusion zone remains around the ship.

The tanker, Ennerdale, was carrying 1,600 tonnes of liquid propane from Fawley, the UK's largest oil refinery.

The Solent's Marine Response Plan, known as Solfire, was immediately initiated
Fawley refinery spokesman

Southampton harbourmaster Steven Young said the risk of the gas igniting was very low.

A spokeswoman for Hampshire police said the gas cloud travelled towards the sea, so homes in the area did not have to be evacuated

A spokesman for Associated British Ports, the UK's leading ports business, said: "The shipping goes up past Fawley terminal so the port was closed to make sure no ships were nearby."

Fawley staff worked to contain the leak by refitting the valve.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service sent about 50 firefighters to support the refinery's own fire fighting team. They used fine water jets to disperse gas vapour.

A refinery spokesman said: "The Solent's Marine Response Plan, known as Solfire, was immediately initiated to manage the incident and the agencies involved have been continually undertaking assessments to ensure the safety of the members of the community and the refinery."

Ferries stopped

There was one minor injury and the person was treated in hospital and has been discharged.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Environment Agency and Hampshire County Council were informed of the incident and ferries to and from the Isle of Wight also stopped overnight.

Operator Red Funnel said it had to cancel five vehicle ferries and two Red Jet ferry crossings although it was operating as normal again on Wednesday morning.

Hampshire police said they would be using a launch to enforce the 400m cordon on Wednesday.

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