Chlorine Leak Forces Evac

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 @ 05:04 PM gHale

Four residents suffered injuries and 50 homes and several businesses evacuated because of a hazardous materials situation in Lower Providence, PA, Thursday morning.

The four residents ended up taken to area hospitals for evaluation, officials said.

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Residents in the neighborhood began calling emergency services complaining of a chlorine or bleach odor around 8:45 a.m., said Lower Providence Fire Chief Jim Alexander.

Several streets ended up blocked off by police and firefighters, and Montgomery County hazmat personnel responded to a call to investigate. A temporary shelter was set up at the Lower Providence Fire Department on Ridge Pike for evacuees.

Hazmat investigators determined the leak was emanating from E. R. Joseph Co. Inc., a company that provides compressed gas cylinder certification and maintenance. Alexander said when hazmat crews arrived at the business, several employees had already evacuated the building.

Chlorine became airborne while workers were cleaning a tank, Lower Providence police said. Hazmat personnel entered the business and capped and contained the leak. After containing the leak, workers ventilated the building.

Alexander said meter readings indicated chemical levels inside the building had decreased by 10 a.m., and they would check the levels in the evacuated homes to determine safety levels before evacuated residents could return. West Norriton and Lower Providence officials requested residents near the scene shelter in place until restrictions lifted around noon. Police said all active operations ended around 12:45 p.m.

The incident is under investigation by the Department of Environmental Protection, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and township officials.

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