Alarm System Catches Chemical Leak

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 @ 04:08 PM gHale

A plant’s safety alarm system did its job after detecting a leak, but it still didn’t stop hundreds of gallons of chlorine dioxide from pouring out of a storage tank at the Weyerhaeuser Co. pulp mill in Longview, WA, last Friday, company officials said.

About 8 a.m., a Weyerhaeuser employee saw the chemical leak coming from a tank containing about 109,000 gallons of chlorine dioxide and water, company spokesman Anthony Chavez said. Around the same time, he said the mill’s monitoring alarm sounded after detecting the acrid chlorine gas.

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The mill uses the chlorine dioxide solution to bleach kraft paper to make products such as milk cartons. The solution contains roughly 1 percent chlorine dioxide, Chavez said.

A hazardous materials team finished the cleanup about 2:30 p.m., Chavez said, adding that mill workers patched the leak and collected and used the liquid left in the tank.

The hazmat team also applied a fogging mist to the airborne chlorine, which helped dissipate the chemical and kept it on the mill site.

“We’re still assessing the situation, but there doesn’t appear to be an effect on the surrounding community either,” Chavez said.

Chavez said company officials notified federal, state and county agencies about the spill.

The company does not have a cost estimate and is investigating the cause, Chavez said.

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