Chemical Leak Forces Evacuation

Friday, May 10, 2013 @ 03:05 PM gHale


Residents are back home now after a chemical leak from a faulty valve at the Bayer CropScience facility in an area in north Lubbock, TX, forced an evacuation Wednesday night.

Around 7:40 p.m. Wednesday, employees at Bayer CropScience detected a leak from a faulty valve on a tank of hydrogen chloride gas and contacted authorities.

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The Lubbock Fire Department established an isolation zone around the leak and began a small neighborhood evacuation.

Around midnight, changing weather conditions forced them to expand the isolation zone.

Twenty homes were in the mandatory evacuation area and another 100 were within the voluntary evacuation area. Residents got warnings via emergency calls and Lubbock police went door to door, conducting the evacuation. They drove up and down the roads with lights and sirens engaged to wake up any remaining people.

Residents found shelter with family members or scrambled to find hotel rooms, while the Salvation Army and Red Cross worked together to shelter displaced families.

Businesses on Municipal Hill, Guadalupe Elementary School and the Guadalupe Early Learning Center closed down Thursday because of their proximity to the leak.

The chemical leaking is Anhydrous Hydrochloric Acid and is very dangerous if any touches or inhales it, said Lubbock Fire officials. Fire officials are using computer simulation software to predict where the cloud may spread based on predicted and current weather conditions.

Fire officials emphasized anyone outside the isolation zone should not feel any affects from the leak and should not fear for their safety.

Lubbock fire chief Robert Loveless said Thursday residents who had evacuated the area due to the leak were able to return to their homes.

Loveless said the process of transferring the gas safely out of the leaky valve is ongoing and could take up to two additional days.



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