Acid Dissolves Part, Forces Evac

Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 05:10 PM gHale

A hazardous materials situation at Utica Corp.’s Whitesboro, NY, facility Thursday night forced workers to evacuate the area.

Emergency workers got the call at 8:56 p.m. to the 8273 Halsey Road manufacturing facility, where they learned an overhead mechanism that dips parts into various acid tanks had malfunctioned, he said.

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The factory produces fan blades for jet engines, and they treat the metal by dipping it into a vat of acid. The acid bath is an automated process, but something went wrong with the machine and it did not remove the blade from the acid at about 9 p.m. Thursday, said New York Mills fire Chief Rick Ulinski.

“The part was in the tank longer than it should have been,” he said. The metal blade started dissolving and reacting with the acid, Ulinski said. “The tank was fuming and possibly boiling over, spilling the acid.”

The mechanism didn’t lift the part back out of one of the tanks, resulting in it dissolving and creating fumes and spraying some acid out of the tank, Ulinski said.

The two workers evaluated at the scene by medical personnel were the closest workers to the tank when the incident happened, he said.

“Two were evaluated but found to be OK. No one was sent to the hospital,” Ulinski said shortly after emergency crews cleared the scene shortly after 11 p.m.

Employees were able to return inside as emergency crews were departing the scene.

Utica and Oneida County HazMat teams were sent to the scene, and Yorkville firefighters were on standby to cover other calls in New York Mills.

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