New Leak Springs from DuPont Acid Breach

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 @ 05:06 PM gHale

A breach in the dike used to contain a leak of hydrochloric acid at the DuPont Fluoroproduct plant on Camp Ground Road in Rubbertown, outside Louisville, KY, occurred Monday night, but officials said there was no danger to the public.

A second hazardous materials team ended up dispatched just after 6 p.m. Monday when the 2-inch hole developed in the dike, MetroSafe spokeswoman Jody Duncan said.

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Workers are containing the hydrochloric acid leaking from the hole with soda ash and no new alert ended up issued to people in the surrounding area, Duncan said.

“There’s no danger to the public (and) no actions are needed,” she said.

The original spill was the result of a broken valve on a 500,000-gallon tank containing 400,000 gallons of acid occurred around 6 p.m. Sunday.

That led to an order for people within one mile of the plant at 4200 Camp Ground Road to stay in their homes, close windows and doors, and shut off ventilation systems. That shelter-in-place order ended up lifted after a few hours.

Monday’s dike breach interrupted the process of neutralizing the hydrochloric acid.

“That leak needs to be controlled before they can continue on with offloading and neutralizing of that product,” Duncan said. There is no projection for how long the offloading will take, she said.

The original leak seemed to be the result of a faulty flange and workers contained it within minutes, company spokeswoman Bhanu Calvert said. She said the company estimated about 1,375 pounds of the chemical released into the air and about 270 pounds released into the ground.

While they ended up containing the spill, there was still an active leak, Calvert said. She said the amount of hydrochloric acid spilled did not pose a risk to the plant or surrounding area, but she would not say how much was still leaking.

“The community, the environment and our employees are safe,” she said. “There’s no risk to them.”

Hydrochloric acid is a colorless solution of hydrogen chloride in water. It is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid, with many industrial uses.

Calvert said crews were neutralizing the acid and there was no danger it would spread from the site. She would not say where the leak occurred inside the plant.

An investigation into the cause of the leak started, but investigators won’t be able to enter the area where the spill occurred until they neutralize the acid, which should take about two days, Calvert said.

In the meantime, it’s “business as normal” at the plant, she said.

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