A SECURITY alert was sparked at Newcastle Airport yesterday after chemicals were uncovered during building work.
Around 10 bottles of an unknown liquid were found two metres below ground by a crew working on a new water main near the Freight Village, on the edge of the airport.
One of the bottles caught fire and released a gas and emergency services were called to the scene, about 400yds from the passenger terminal, just before 9.50am.
Five fire and rescue crews and a decontamination unit arrived, the area was evacuated and police closed off Ponteland Road between the Wheatsheaf pub and Prestwick Terrace, Woolsington.
The airport terminal was not affected and no flights were cancelled.
Three bottles the size of milk bottles were unearthed. But seven more were discovered after the area was made secure.
They were taken from the scene and an investigation was launched to find out what the chemical was and where it came from. An airport spokeswoman said the liquid was not thought to be explosive and was believed to have been underground for a considerable amount of time.
She said: “Whilst completing excavation work on a new water main at the airport, Northumbrian Water has this morning discovered four canisters containing an unidentified chemical substance.
“These canisters have been unearthed in an area of grass adjacent to the airport’s freight village.
“The substance contained within the canisters is not thought to be explosive.
“The affected area has been made safe and the situation poses no risk to the airport or its customers. Once the substance has been identified, a specialist waste management team will remove the canisters from the airport site.
Experts at the Environment Agency were contacted and passed on advice to the emergency services.
Rob Blenkinsopp, group manager of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue, said: “The fire and rescue service responded quickly to the call and we are currently trying to identify the chemical involved.
“All our firefighters are wearing appropriate safety equipment to protect them from any potential fumes.
“I would like to praise them for their professionalism and commitment in handling the incident.”