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Taken 12-Nov-12
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HRS 3929 Irwell Nuttall Village cyanide and sodium plant remains 1994

Some years ago I recorded an interview with the former plant manager. He recalled - Cyanide was manufactured in huge vats. The molten or liquid cyanide was poured into special trays to cool, forming pellets or as they called them euphemistically, `ounce pearls'. One fellow thought he'd got some in his mouth, you'd turn these moulds over, you'd knock them out you see, tap them with a little hammer. Q: Rather like toffee? Yes. Well some times when you hit them, a piece would fly up you see and he thought it must have hit him on the lip or the cheek and he panicked. He thought he hadn't got long to live!' Fortunately for that worker, it was a false alarm. The process was however, extremely dangerous. On another occasion: `... the cyanide pellets were put into wooden cases about 2ft 6in by 18 inches, but inside they had to have a tin lining, then a tin top. ... and we used to solder this top on. We didn't know that spirits of salts used for soldering and sodium cyanide was deadly. The managing director came in and said `What are you soldering with?' `Spirits of salts.' He says `Out everybody' and we got flux after that. We were lucky because it were two lads and two men as were doing it. We'd only just started.' Later this same firm manufactured bleaching powder and one of the tea-break tricks employees used to enjoy, was throwing a small piece of sodium on to the surface of the river. Water and sodium react violently. `It lights up and bangs all over the place' recalled one workman with delight'. KH
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Keywords:1994, bury, chemicals, cyanide, health and safety, lancashire, nuttall village, ramsbottom, retorts, river irwell, rivers, rossendale, sodium manufacture, summerseat, working conditions

HRS 3929 Irwell Nuttall Village cyanide and sodium plant remains 1994