Chemical Spill, Fire Forces Evac

Monday, December 23, 2013 @ 01:12 PM gHale

An investigation is continuing into a nitric acid-fueled fire at a chemical plant in Tulsa County Thursday, Sapulpa, OK, police said.

The fire caused minimal damage to the Sulzer Chemtech building, and according to a company spokesperson, Sulzer opened Friday for “business as usual.”

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Multiple agencies responded to the 7:15 p.m. blaze, including Tulsa Hazmat and Kiefer police. Officials cleared the scene around midnight.

Fire crews said the building on fire had smoke pouring out. It was also right next to a larger building on the complex.

Nitric acid is a chemical compound which is a colorless, highly corrosive, poisonous liquid that gives off choking red or yellow fumes in moist air. It is usually stored in water solutions. Witnesses said they saw a plume and could smell some chemicals during the event.

Emergency responders evacuated area businesses within a half mile radius. Portions of the Turner Turnpike closed also.

“We knew it was a defensive operation,” said Sapulpa Fire Chief David Taylor. “We did not want the runoff to get in the storm sewer system and the creek system.”

City of Sapulpa crews brought in fill dirt and worked with fire crews in building a dam system to contain the water used to fight the fire. Taylor said they were also able to dam up a nearby creek to contain the run-off.

Crews from Sooner Environmental pumped the contained water into trucks for removal and disposal. Taylor said litmus tests showed the water collected on the hard surfaces showed at pH 4. The water collected in the creek showed a pH5. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH showing 0-1 is highly acidic.

Investigators were on the scene Friday in an effort to determine the cause of the fire.

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