Published: 19:18, 11 November 2019
| Updated: 19:35, 11 November 2019
The owner of Charlton's Farm, where almost 50 people were treated for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning last week, has insisted the company did nothing wrong.
Four people were taken to hospital and dozens more treated at the scene of the reported gas leak, at the industrial estate near Rumwood Green Farm off Sutton Road, Langley, on Wednesday.
More than 40 firefighters were at the scene, working into the night with hazardous material officers to make the site safe.
They left at around 2am.
The fruit farm reopened for business on Friday morning after police removed a cordon around the site.
Sean Charlton, the director of the company, brought in an independent firm to find the cause of the suspected gas leak, but said its investigations had struggled to find an answer as to why so many people felt unwell.
After conducting further tests the company was said to have identified a release of low levels of carbon monoxide in the area where the Pink Lady apples were stored and packed, but Mr Charlton insisted nowhere in the building had dangerous levels of hazardous gases.
According to the boss, staff that work in the building reported feeling ill at around 2.15pm, including one pregnant woman, and ambulances were called as a precaution.
As more people began to feel unwell, he said the ambulance service declared a major incident.
As a result, fire crews and police were also called to the scene.
The firefighters conducted carbon monoxide monitoring tests to find the source of the gas and identified high levels in the building.
Mr Charlton believes the fire service's tests were not a fair representation.
He said: "The monitor also picks up ethylene which is given off by fruit. That was disturbing the fire brigade's readings. There are no chemicals to leak. I said to them 'how can you say that there has been a chemical leak when you haven’t got any proof?'"
Mr Charlton said people in the surrounding area were too scared to leave their homes because police had been knocking on doors of homes in the village and asking them to close all their windows and to stay inside, despite 100 people being allowed to stand directly outside the site of the suspected leak.
In the future he plans to install specialised carbon monoxide detectors which aren't affected by ethylene and encourage his staff to stay hydrated
The company has been in with touch with the supermarkets it supplies to explain the situation.
The Health and Safety Executive which is a government body responsible for ensuring workplace health and safety has conducted its own investigation. The results are expected to take as long as six to eight weeks to be released.
It has been approached for further comment.