Four die of poison gas at German recycling plant

9th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 November 2005, HAMBURG - Four people were killed in Germany when a toxic gas that smells of rotten eggs was suddenly released from a tanker truck loaded with minced pig offal at a government-backed pilot recycling plant.

9 November 2005

HAMBURG - Four people were killed in Germany when a toxic gas that smells of rotten eggs was suddenly released from a tanker truck loaded with minced pig offal at a government-backed pilot recycling plant.

Officials said Wednesday they had identified the gas as hydrogen sulphide (H2S), a colourless gas released when bacteria digest rotting matter without oxygen. The cloud was 5,000 times the strength at which human beings can smell the gas.

"Two breaths of it and you're dead," said Joerg Hoppe, a public health official. Two people were killed instantly on Tuesday and two more succumbed to respiratory damage on Wednesday.

The accident occurred at Zeven, southwest of Hamburg, at a privately owned plant that has been hailed by the government as a national forerunner for a new industry of converting animal waste to electricity.

It receives waste from farms, slaughterhouses and pharmaceutical plants to produce methane, which is burned in an 800-megawatt power plant to produce power and heat.

The accident happened when a Dutch truck backed up. Officials said there was no defect in the plant. Police said another driver was in serious condition but stable.

The gas is best known from the foul odour of rotten eggs but is also common at volcanic eruptions.

DPA

Subject: German news

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