SIX people were taken to hospital after a chemical incident at a Runcorn energy from waste facility.

Fire crews were alerted at 7.25pm staff had breathed in dust from a structure containing hydrated lime powder which can cause severe skin irritation, chemical burns or lung damage. 

Four ambulances were sent to the site on Barlow Way as well as two vehicles from the hazardous response team and a rapid response vehicle. 

A North West Ambulance spokesman added: "Six patients were taken to Warrington Hospital with irritation to the eyes and throat due to dust from a chemical spillage."

A spokesman for the Runcorn energy from waste facility said: "We can confirm that at approximately 7pm on  Thursday 30 October, an incident occurred at the Runcorn Energy from Waste facility.   

"The incident occurred during a routine inspection of the flue gas treatment system, resulting in the release of a quantity of pollution control residues. 

"The material released was confined to an enclosed space and therefore remained on site. 

"Six workers in the vicinity were exposed to material and received immediate on site treatment and subsequently received medical attention from the external emergency services who attended site as a precaution. 

"The equipment in question has now been fully isolated and will not restart until completion of an internal investigation.  Commissioning activity on the remainder of the facility is continuing as normal.

"The Environment Agency is aware of the incident and will be kept informed.  At no point was there any risk to people or the environment off-site."