The pollution incident at ICI’s Greatham factory near Hartlepool last week will result in one of the plant’s three streams being closed for up to a month.
The plant, part of ICI’s Tioxide Group which itself has been put up for sale, is working at 80% capacity.
Wayne Barnacal, Greatham site manager, said the stream was shut off when a quantity of titanium tetrachloride liquid was accidentally released from pipework from a heat exchanger.
Water sprays were used to knock down the resultant fume, which contained a titanium by-product and hydrochloric acid.
The Environment Agency has since served a prohibition notice on the plant, which must remain closed until the company has carried out repairs and improved maintenance and inspection procedures.
ICI will replace a damaged heat exchanger, coroded cooling water lines and carry out additional safety work.
The stream can go back on line only with the agency’s written permission.
The accident happened in the same week as Tioxide published its fourth annual environmental report, in which the company said it had significantly improved its environmental performance.
`The burden of acid gas emissions to air fell by 19%, as did discharges which could lead to ozone creation,’ said the report.
The incident also came in the wake of a meeting in May between ICI executives and the Environment Agency following five spillages at its Runcorn and North Tees sites in the past year.
ICI agreed to review environmental management systems and apply measures across its sites in England and Wales.