WARRINGTON Hospital's A&E department is now fully open again after dealing with a number of casualties following an incident at a  plant in Runcorn this afternoon, Wednesday.

Around 20 people had been admitted at Warrington A&E leading to the department being 'locked down' temporarily.

Access from the road in front of the department had also been limited following the incident at the Keppel Seghers site.

A hospital spokesman said injuries appeared to be relatively minor.

Ambulances bringing patients not involved in the incident had been diverted to other A&Es temporarily.

The spokesman also confirmed there is no risk to staff or public on site and other hospital services are running as normal. 

Firefighters had been at the hospital in case their help is needed with decontamination.

The incident happened at 1pm today at the Keppel Seghers site at the energy from waste plant, which has only just started operating, in Percival Lane.

Workmen came into contact with the chemical substance while working at a Runcorn power plant and were taken to hospital for treatment.

A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: “At 1pm today police received reports of an incident at Keppel Seghers.

“While carrying out work on the site a number of workmen have come into contact with a substance, which has caused irritation to the eyes and respiratory problems.

“A number of people were taken to Warrington Hospital in works vehicles where they are currently being assessed.

“The circumstances surrounding the incident are currently being explored and enquiries are continuing.”

A spokesman for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “People presented themselves to the hospital which triggered us sending an appliance to the site.”

At 4.30pm a hospital spokesman added most of the patients have now been discharged.

A couple of casualties are still being monitored but it is expected they will be able to go home today.

A spokesman from Viridor, which runs the plant, confirmed there was a 'spillage of Air Pollution Control Residue (mainly hydrated lime)' at Runcorn Energy from Waste (EfW) Plant at 10.45am. 

He added: "Site procedures were followed throughout and an ambulance attended the scene and has taken one worker (who has an underlying health condition) to Warrington Hospital as a precaution. 

"16 people have self-presented to Warrington A&E in addition, who received small amounts of wind blow dust on their clothing and 15 people have already returned to site.

"The spillage occurred during the current commissioning phase of the plant by Keppel Seghers, the managing contractor on the site."

He confirmed the spillage had been contained and a full investigation will be conducted.