Chemical Spill Hurts 6 in KS

Monday, October 10, 2016 @ 06:10 PM gHale

A hazardous chemical spill in Hesston, Kansas, Thursday morning left at least six people injured, three in serious condition.

The spill occurred at the GVL Poly Plant in the 8500 block of North Hesston Road.

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The spill ended up reported to Harvey County authorities at 10:21 a.m., said Melissa Flavin at the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office.

“There was five gallons of hazardous material that spilled and there were fumes,” Flavin said. Flavin said five gallons an isocyanate product spilled.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said “isocyanates are a family of highly reactive, low molecular weight chemicals. They are widely used in the manufacture of flexible and rigid foams, fibers, coatings such as paints and varnishes, and elastomers, and are increasingly used in the automobile industry, autobody repair, and building insulation materials.”

Initially six people complained of medical symptoms, including difficulty breathing. After evaluation, three people went to the Newton Medical Center in serious condition, she said. Three others went to the hospital by private vehicles and ended up treated and released.

The entire plant evacuated and remained closed until workers were able to cleanup the spill.

Emergency Medical Service units from Newton and Hesston were called to the scene. Other responders included the Hesston Police Department and the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Wichita office opened its investigation into the chemical spill.

“When hazardous chemicals are not properly controlled, there is a potential for release at any time, which could result in a tragedy,” said Judy Freeman, OSHA’s area director of Wichita. “We will conduct a thorough investigation to determine if any violations of OSHA safety standards contributed to the incident.”