Acid spill shuts Scottish distillery

X marks site of affected distillery.
LEVENMOUTH, Fife, Scotland -- A Diageo distillery that makes whiskey for some major brands was hit by a major chemical spill today.

Workers were safely evacuated by firefighters called to the Cameronbridge Distillery after thousands of liters of nitric acid spilled from a container. Some of it mixed with water, releasing dangerous gases into an outer safety tank called a bund.

There has been no word on how much of an effect the problem will have on the production flow of spirits.

The plant creates the base grain spirit used in such brands as Johnnie Walker, J&B, Bell’s, Black and White, Haig and White Horse. It also makes the grain-neutral spirit for Archers, Pimm’s, Smirnoff, Tanqueray and Gordon’s Gin.

Officials said thousands of liters of 60% nitric acid solution leaked from a 28,000-liter container. Nitric acid is a colorless, corrosive liquid which can cause severe burns. It is a common element used in plant disinfecting.

Site manager Jim McCowen said from the scene, "One of the process tanks has sprung a leak and it’s collected in the bund. Because the bund had a small amount of water in it, the acid has reacted and released a gas. It’s been contained in that tank, but until the specialist contractor gets here, the fire service is here to monitor the situation."

A Diageo spokesman later said, "No one has been injured and the spillage is being contained safely, with no environmental impact."

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