Approximately 5,000 litres of methyl methacrylate was released from storage at a specialist chemical business on Industrial Road earlier today.
Auckland Council staff, including environmental health and pollution experts, have been at the scene since it was reported. They are working with Fire and Emergency NZ, and have been consulting with Auckland Regional Public Health Service.
Methyl methacrylate is a chemical used in the manufacture of plastics and adhesives. While the chemical is considered to have low toxicity for people, it can cause nasal irritation and headaches and has an acrid and fruity odour.
Auckland Regional Public Health Service’s Medical Officer of Health Dr David Sinclair says although the health risk is currently assessed as low, people should take a precautionary approach and close doors and windows if they can smell the chemical. The main potential health effects are eye, skin or respiratory irritation.
“To avoid experiencing the unpleasant smells and any potential irritation, we advise people in the wider Penrose and Onehunga area to consider closing doors and windows.
“If you work in this industrial zone you may also need to keep doors and windows closed tomorrow too.
“If you have any further concerns, please contact Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice,” Dr Sinclair says.
The chemical has gone into a stormwater drain, and into the Manukau Harbour.
Auckland Council’s Manager of Environmental Health Mervyn Chetty says warning signs are being put up in the area, and the Safeswim website is also telling people not to go into the water five kilometres from the spill – which covers Mangere Bridge, Taumanu East, Taumanu Central, Taumanu West and Onehunga.
Auckland Council is currently investigating the circumstances around the incident.