Coastal Town Closed Off After Acid Leak

A poisonous gas cloud brought panic to the southern Swedish shipping town of Helsingborg on Friday morning.

Residents were ordered to stay indoors and close all windows after thousands of tonnes of sulpuric acid leaked out from a tank at the Kemira chemical factory and into the harbour , mixing with the water and creating a large gas cloud that was blown out towards the sea.

Large sections of the city were blocked off to traffic and ferry traffic to Denmark was cancelled. By 11 a.m., most streets had reopened, except for the blocks surrounding the chemical plant.

Officials said at least 13 people were injured but none seriously. 

Ronny Moeller, a spokesman for the Helsingborg Rescue Service, said the leak was probably caused by a broken water pipe that softened the ground under the tank holding the acid. The unstable soil then apparently caused the tank to crack, he said.

”It’s a good thing the wind was blowing toward the strait,” he said. ” Had it blown toward the city, we don’t know what would have happened. ”