Chemical mishaps

Two accidents at Germany's largest chemical group, Hoechst AG, in the last week of January this year, has led to nearly one tonne of toxic powder escaping into the environment and another 1.5 tonne of an unnamed substance spilling into the Main River, near Frankfurt.

The powder used to make the herbicide Arelon, is mildly toxic and has the propensity to cause cancer according to Juergen Asshauer, a Hoechst official. The Hesse state environment ministry has ordered that the plant be shut down until the cause of the mishaps are determined and adequate precautions are taken to ensure that future accidents do not take place. Meanwhile, city health authorities issued a general river warning and directed that residents stay indoors until the clean-up operations are concluded.