On 3 July, a ‘massive explosion’ in the grain silos at the UK Port of Tilbury severely damaged the roof of the silo. There were no fatalities, and just one person was treated for smoke inhalation.
Essex Fire & Rescue Service despatched four fire engines to the terminal. Crews found grain on fire inside the plant and were able to remove unaffected grain so it did not ignite. They are continuing to work with site managers to get the site back up and running and are liaising with Port of Tilbury Police to allow businesses back to their premises at the appropriate time. According to fire crew watch manager Dave Bond, “It was a great joint response from the Ambulance Service, Port of Tilbury Police, Fire Service and Port to control the incident and stop it from escalating.”
As of 11 July, a number of silos were still smouldering, and the fire services explained: “Essex County Fire and Rescue Services remains at Tilbury Grain Terminal, where there are a number of silos on fire. Our priority is to extinguish the fire, so the affected silos at the grain terminal can be safely taken down and removed. This will require specific firefighting techniques, including using nitrogen and foam.
“Our specialist Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams have set up a safe system of work for our crews, meaning our firefighters can work safely at height. We have drones and CCTV thermal imaging cameras, providing details and images to our fire officers.
“The tactics that are being used to control and eliminate this fire have been risk assessed, tested and are fully supported by external scientific advisors and structural engineers.
“The action and activity we are undertaking ensures that we are extinguishing the fires as a priority, which will also protect the remaining assets and products in the other areas of the grain terminal.
At times there may be some visible smoke or steam as we tackle the fire. Rest assured, this is expected as part of our plans and there is no risk to the public.”
Peter Ward, Commercial Manager, at the Port of Tilbury, has said: “Following the explosion at the Tilbury Grain Terminal on Friday 3 July, our initial efforts have been concentrated on working with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service to contain and eliminate the fire in the affected area of the silo and to protect the area of the silo which was unaffected by the explosion.
“Operations at the silo itself will be closed until at least 31 July and we will provide a further update on this during the month.
“Grain handling and storage services however are still available from today [9 July] within the Port of Tilbury for our customers. We have complemented this with a significant quantity of offsite storage which has now been secured to back up quayside handling and storage.
“We will continue to service our customer and farming base for both imports and exports of agricultural products to the best of our ability during this period of disruption.
“We thank our customers, port team and the emergency services for their continued support to us at this time.”