PEOPLE are being urged to keep their doors and windows shut and a 100m cordon has been put in place after a 'chemical reaction' has produced a ‘potentially toxic' gas cloud.

Emergency services have rushed to Minehead Sewage Treatment after reports of the chemical reaction.

A spokesperson for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue says the site has been evacuated and a 100m cordon has been put in place.

An update at 8.15pm confirmed that the fire service was dealing with a 'protracted incident' at the Wessex Water Sewage Treatment Works in Dunster.

A spokesman said: "The chemical incident is producing a small amount of Chlorine gas that is being controlled and diluted with jets of water.

"The gas is not affecting residential areas as the wind and water are dispersing the gas towards the sea, however if you are concerned please close your doors and windows.

"Please do not cross the cordons that are in place for public safety. We expect to be at the scene throughout the night.

"Chlorine gas has a pungent bleach odour. Minor exposures may result in a burning sensation of the eyes and throat.

"More substantial exposure may cause coughing or breathing difficulties. Those with a chest condition such as asthma or emphysema may be more sensitive to the effects of chlorine.

"Most people who have developed symptoms following an exposure to chlorine will not suffer any long-term effects. If you are concerned about your health, call NHS 111, contact your General Practitioner (GP) or in the case of an emergency, call 999."

Hazmat officers are at the scene along with police and other emergency services.

A fire service spokesman said: "The site has been evacuated.

"We are asking people to keep their doors and windows closed while emergency services deal with the situation.

"We are working to ensure the site is safe."

A large amount of smoke was seen coming from the main plant area.

Fire and special appliances from Minehead, Taunton, Porlock, Lynton, Wiveliscombe and Street attended alongside other emergency services. 

The site was evacuated while people living in the area were advised to stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed.

An adjacent railway line was closed and emergency services workers have visited a nearby holiday park and beach to advise people of the situation.

Working with other agencies and the site owners, firefighters in gas tight suits and supplying water to the most affected area to provide a suppression spray while samples are taken from the plume.

West Somerset Railway services were also held while the incident is dealt with.

A spokesman for Wessex Water said: "A chemical incident has occurred at Minehead water recycling centre.

"Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service are currently at the site dealing with the incident. There are no reports of any injuries."

People are being urged to visit hospital if they feel unwell.

PCSO Linda Brooks said: “A message for all Dunster and Beach end of Minehead, towards Seaward Way and Butlins. There has been a release of potential toxic gas from the Wessex Water plant at Dunster Marsh. 

“Please if you live within these areas be mindful of a sulphur type smell.

“As a precaution The Fire Brigade suggest to keep windows and doors closed.

”Especially those within the immediate vincinty we believe this will last anything up to four hours.

“If anyone should feel unwell and have respiratory issues please present yourself at the hospital.”

As of 9pm emergency services were still on the scene carrying out tests at the site and the surrounding area.