Chem Leak brings out HazMat Team

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 @ 05:04 PM gHale


There was a chemical leak at Vertellus Specialties in Zeeland, MI, Friday.

A HazMat team got the call to respond to a small cloud of phosphorus trichloride, a chemical used as a raw material in one of the plant’s food products.

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Phosphorus trichloride is a colorless or slightly yellow fuming liquid with a pungent and irritating odor resembling that of hydrochloric acid, according to a note on Chemicalbook.com. Can cause severe burns to skin, eyes and mucous membranes. Very toxic by inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption. Reacts with water to evolve hydrochloric acid, an irritating and corrosive gas apparent as white fumes. Used during electrodeposition of metal on rubber and for making pesticides, surfactants, gasoline additives, plasticizers, dyestuffs, textile finishing agents, germicides, medicinal products, and other chemicals.

Firefighters first arrived on scene shortly after 7 p.m.

There were no injuries and there are no health concerns., officials said.

Emergency workers evacuated a business next-door to Vertellus, but there haven’t been any other evacuations. While they responded, crews also closed off nearby roads to the facility.

Vertellus, a provider of specialty chemicals for the agriculture, nutrition, pharmaceutical, fine chemicals, medical, personal care, plastics, coatings and many other industrial markets, released the following statement:

“On the evening of Friday, April 1 the Vertellus facility located at 215 N. Centennial experienced a release. In keeping with established safety protocol at the site, the Zeeland Fire Department was notified and Vertellus is working with authorities to resolve the situation.”