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Forgemasters begin million pound clean up operation

26 June 2007

Sheffield Forgemasters believes the severe flash flooding in the city's east end has caused damage estimated at tens of millions of pounds to its Brightside Lane base.

The 200-year-old company, which has survived two World Wars, was cut off by torrents of six foot high water from late yesterday afternoon leaving staff stranded in a two storey building.

More than 50 staff were initially trapped in the Brightside Lane HQ without power and communications however emergency services rescued employees in the early hours via helicopter and boat to leave 30 staff there overnight.

Forgemasters' director Peter Birtles said the health and safety of employees had been and still was paramount as a massive clean up operation now begins as the waters subside.

Peter, who stayed overnight at Forgemasters during the crisis, said: "There are lots of areas on site that are still underwater including cellars and pits containing underground machinery. Sludge and oil are covering vast areas throughout the site and we have a huge task ahead of us to clean up.

"There has been major disruption to the site but we are not dead. We will recover. Our primary concern is our employees' health and safety. The site is dangerous as there is no lighting and electricity and water can be a lethal mix. We have sent a number of staff home who have turned up this morning but key management and maintenance staff are here.

"We are talking damage worth tens of millions of pounds at first glance.

"We will seek to minimise disruption with regards to deliveries to our customers but ask people to bear with us through this difficult period."

Peter added that the company would be asking questions about flood defences in the Lower Don Valley area to the relevant authorities.

He added: "The company is puzzled about the unprecedented speed that the water rose and took hold of areas. There are questions to be asked to the city council and the rivers authority about why this happened."