A man living next to a former dairy says he could have been killed when a compressed air cannister flew on to his balcony during demolition work nearby.

Malcolm Armstrong said he was at home when the compressed air cylinder - which he described as weighing about 20lbs - flew from the old Express Dairy site, where buildings are being demolished, and landed on the balcony of his second-floor home next door in Victoria Road, South Ruislip .

“It flew through the air and I am telling you, if someone had been out there and been hit it would have killed them,” he said.

Malcolm Armstrong lives in Victoria Road, south Ruislip, close to the Express Dairy site which is being demolished.
 

“It was only a couple of metres away from our window and the noise when it hit was like a bomb going off.”

The retired engineer, 65, lives in the house he has occupied for 32 years with his wife Lynda, and daughter Kerry, 31.

He remembers when the dairy was operational, but since 2005 the site, owned by Arla Foods, has been derelict.

An application to build an Asda supermarket, cinema and houses has been submitted to Hillingdon Council but is yet to be approved. In February the council turned Arla down on the grounds of size .

“Arla are paying rates on the old dairy buildings being up, so of course they want to tear them down,” Mr Armstrong said. But he is not happy with the results.

“There is dust everywhere. I have had to pay to have my car washed three times a week for the past few weeks.

The view from behind Mr Armstrong's house. Diggers working on the sit
 

“There are cracks inside the buildings that have only appeared after they started tearing all the buildings down.

“All of the neighbours are having the same problems. It is a worry.”

His home and others nearby are owned by Hillingdon Council. “They will have to foot the bill when it comes to repairing all the cracks in the walls,” Mr Armstrong said.

He has reported the cannister incident to the council’s environmental health officers and to the demolition company carrying out the work, R. Collard.

Both have said they are investigating.

COMPRESSED GAS - THE RISKS

Compressed gas cannisters can be deadly if dropped or struck, leading to a sudden release of pressure.

Cannisters are made of a material appropriate to the pressure of the gas inside. High pressure requires steel, which appears to be the case here.

The vulnerable point is the neck, where a valve has to be inserted. If the cannister is dropped and the valve breaks, the neck acts like an exhaust pipe, turning the cannister into a rocket.

Scuba divers are repeatedly warned never to leave cannisters standing upright to avoid this risk.

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