REGULAR alarms which go off at the Severn Trent Water's Mitcheldean Water Treatment Works are a thing of the past.

Until recently, the sound of alarm bells would go off as part of a local emergency plan in the event dangerous chlorine gases escaped - but no longer as the water company has removed its storage.

James Barton, area manager for the company, said: "Mitcheldean Water Treatment Works supplies around 70,000 customers in Gloucestershire. Until recently, we stored chlorine gas for use in the water disinfection process on site at the works. The chlorine gas can be volatile, and as such, we needed an emergency plan for what would happen in the event of any gas escaping. All of the local residents and businesses were aware of this plan, and they were used to the alarm being sounded for practice. 

"Working with a range of stakeholders, including Gloucestershire County Council and Forest of Dean District Council, we worked out a way to remove the stores of chlorine gas and replace it with liquid chlorine, which is much safer to store and handle. It also poses far less risk to the environment."

Cllr Terry Hale, Cabinet Member for the Forest of Dean District Council, said: "The work that has been completed at Mitcheldean is a positive step forward in making the site even safer. In view of the greatly reduced risk it has been agreed with Severn Trent that there is no longer the need for a specific offsite emergency plan; although our normal emergency management arrangements will remain in place."