A RAIL tanker carrying liquid chlorine sprang a leak inside the Axiall Natrium facility in Marshall County, West Virginia, US, on 27 August, closing the facility and hospitalising two workers.
The leak occurred at around 08:40 local time. The two injured workers, one directly employed by Axiall and one contract worker, were taken to hospital, although their present condition has not been made known. An unspecified number of other workers were treated at a health facility onsite. The plant, which produces chlor-alkali chemicals and employs around 500 people, was evacuated, along with residents in the neighbouring communities of Proctor and Kent in Ohio, and northern New Martinsville in West Virginia. Employees at nearby industrial plants were ordered to shelter in place, while major roads around the site were closed. Hazmat crews were dispatched to evaluate the tanker and the leak area.
According to local news reports, the all-clear was given early in the evening the same day after air quality monitoring showed that the chlorine gas cloud had dissipated. Residents, numbering in the hundreds, were allowed to return to their homes and the roads and Ohio River reopened to vehicles and boats respectively.
How much chlorine was released, or how it happened, is not yet clear, but investigations are now under way.
“The company continues to work with all appropriate agencies to investigate the event. Axiall is also in the process of evaluating and inspecting its facilities in preparation for a restart,” Axiall told The Chemical Engineer.
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