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North-east recycling centre lock down: Emergency after “suspicious” substance find

Chemical experts from the fire and rescue service's detection, identification and monitoring (Dim) team in Perth were called to analyse the substance alongside the fire service's local hazmat team.
Chemical experts from the fire and rescue service's detection, identification and monitoring (Dim) team in Perth were called to analyse the substance alongside the fire service's local hazmat team.

A north-east recycling centre was sealed off for four hours yesterday after staff uncovered a “suspicious” substance.

Westdyke Drive in Elrick was locked down after workers at Aberdeenshire Council’s Westhill Household Waste Recycling Centre came across the mystery material in a container.

Nineteen firefighters were called to the scene alongside police following the find at about 1.30pm.

Chemical experts from the fire and rescue service’s detection, identification and monitoring (Dim) team in Perth were called to analyse the substance alongside the fire service’s local hazmat team.

It is believed the substance had been left at the centre by a member of the public.

Investigators initially struggled to identify exactly what the material – described as “granular” – was, though it was not deemed to be harmful to the public.

However last night police said the substance had been pinpointed as a material used for cleaning.

Station manager Graeme Laird said they were faced with an “undisclosed substance” on arrival.

Mr Laird said: “We erred on the side of safety. After we carried out tests, we managed to determine it was not a risk to public health.

“I believe the council workers came across it and it was attached to another piece of equipment. There was no markings on the chemicals, they were obviously concerned and rightly so and contacted the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“I think the advice is to remain vigilant on suspicious substances.”

Inspector Matt Smith added: “We just needed to go and have a closer look at the substance to satisfy ourselves there is no risk with it being there. A cordon was in place around the site to deal with traffic. What was found was no risk to the community.

“We don’t believe this is criminal at all.

“It was a granular substance, there was no vapour or gases.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s head of roads, landscape services and waste management, Philip McKay, said: “Site attendants noticed a suspicious package at our Westhill Household

Waste Recycling Centre around lunchtime.

“They acted quickly, notifying police and our neighbours at the adjacent community centre, and the site was closed and cordoned off as a precaution.

“The facility is expected to open as normal today and we apologise for any inconvenience to our customers.”

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