Leak Causes Acid Cloud at MD Chem Plant

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 01:09 PM gHale


Acid leaked during a transfer forcing HazMat workers to call for a shelter in place near a Curtis Bay, MD, chemical plant.

A leak at a Curtis Bay chemical plant left residents of several South Baltimore, MD, and Anne Arundel County neighborhoods sheltered in place for an hour and a half.

The shelter-in-place order was because of chlorosulfonic acid leak at the Solvay USA plant, said Chief Roman Clark of the Baltimore Fire Department.

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Chlorosulfonic acid “decomposes on heating on contact with water producing toxic and corrosive fumes,” and “is very corrosive to the eyes, the skin and the respiratory tract,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That put anyone within a one-mile radius of the Solvay plant at risk of bodily harm if they made contact with the vapor.

The leak occurred as crews were transferring the acid from a fixed container to a tanker truck.

“Something went wrong as they were making the transfer from the tank to truck,” Clark said.

HazMat teams responded to the building and shut off a valve inside.

The shelter-in-place warning went into effect at about 12:30 p.m. for the 21060, 21225 and 21226 zip codes, which include Curtis Bay, Glen Burnie, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Park and the Fairfield Area.

Clark said there were no injuries in the incident.

The shelter-in-place warning remained from about 12:30 to 2 p.m.

While it is transported as a liquid, chlorosulfonic acid turns into a gas when it’s exposed to air.

“The liquid material is considered hazardous for inhalation and produces a white cloud when it comes into contact with air, which was visible at the site on Fairfield Road,” Solvay said in a statement.

Founded in 1863 in Belgium and still headquartered there, Solvay is one of the world’s largest chemical companies. Last year, it sold about $13 billion of products used in making everything from planes, cars and medical devices to materials for food and beauty products.

The Baltimore plant has a history of producing chemical ingredients for soaps and detergents, industrial cleaners, agricultural products, latex and clear coat finishes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.



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