All Clear after Bromine Leak in AR

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 @ 10:08 PM gHale

Albemarle Corporation issued an “all clear” Monday morning after containing a bromine leak at its Magnolia South plant in Columbia County, AR.

The company accounted for all employees and there were no injuries as a result of the incident. Air monitoring by both Albemarle and an independent monitoring contractor have found no detectable levels of bromine offsite.

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“Our focus now is on investigating the cause of the incident and completing our clean-up efforts,” said Peggy Matherne, Magnolia site manager.

The company reported that the bromine leak ended up contained as of 9 p.m. Sunday. The leak ended up reported about 5:30 p.m.

Albemarle Corporation issued the following statement late Sunday: “The release has been contained on site. All employees have been accounted for and there have been no injuries as a result of the incident.

“Our emergency response team has successfully secured the leak and is working to complete our mitigation procedures for the released material. We are also investigating the cause of the incident and amount of bromine that has been released.

“Offsite monitoring is being conducted by both Albemarle and an independent monitoring contractor. There have been no detectable levels of bromine recorded offsite.

“We are coordinating our efforts with the Office of Emergency Management, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and will provide updates as more information becomes available. Thank you for your patience.”

Residents reported they saw a cloud over the plant. One described it as an orange-colored cloud. Another called it a “huge cloud of reddish color.”

There was concern that the wind direction might spread a chemical cloud toward the west. Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe said deputies were monitoring the situation. Officials asked people to avoid the area, but there were no evacuations as a result of the chemical release.

The Albemarle facility makes a variety of industrial compounds from bromine, a chemical element extracted from South Arkansas’ rich underground brine water deposits. In its liquid state, it is red-brown in color and is corrosive and toxic. It emits a strong odor that smells like chlorine.

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