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Normalcy Returns After Acid Spill Scare

Posted June 29, 2007

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— A day after an acid leak at a pharmaceutical plant prompted evacuations, state and federal inspectors were at the plant to determine the cause of the accident.

About 15,000 gallons of sulfuric acid poured Thursday from a rupture in an outdoor tank at Mallinckrodt Chemical, 8801 Capital Blvd., into a containment pool.

Special tanker trucks were brought in from Greensboro to handle the spill, but the clean-up effort lasted about 11 hours. In the meantime, the threat of rain prompted authorities to close two schools on Durant Road and a preschool and a gas station across Capital Boulevard from the Mallinckrodt plant entrance and to order residents of a nearby apartment complex to stay indoors.

Authorities feared that rain could react with the acid to produce toxic fumes.

"We've never had to evacuate the premises. They've never give us any alerts that we need to go somewhere. This is the first problem we've ever had," said the Rev. Dwight Barham of Neuse Baptist Church.

The church's preschool summer camp ended early Thursday because of the leak.

"We've never had a problem. They've been good neighbors," Barham said.

The Mallinckrodt plant has had no previous safety violations, but the company has been fined in other states, authorities said.

"They have a fairly good safety record, and they have a record of working with us before," Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath said.

McGrath said the response to the leak was completely different than the response to a chemical fire in Apex last fall. Firefighters were hindered in that incident because they didn't know what chemicals were stored at a hazardous waste operation.

"(It was a) totally different scenario," he said. "We knew exactly the product we were dealing with. We knew its properties. We knew its hazards.

"As it turned out, it was a non-event."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Labor and the state Division of Waste Management joined Mallinckrodt crews Friday to determine what caused the leak.

"We are investigating this event thoroughly to identify a root cause, and this assessment will include a review our response effort to determine whether any changes or additional preventative measures are needed," Mallinckrodt spokeswoman JoAnna Schooler said in a statement.

7 Comments

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  • nc911tc Jul 1, 2007

    I agree with all of you! WRAL tends to pound a story to death. I wish news would go back to just airing at 6am, 6pm, and 11pm. With news on 24/7, anything tends to make news.

  • CAVEMAN24 Jun 30, 2007

    awesome let some into the river maybe it will kill off some of the funk thats in there

  • WRALSUCKS Jun 30, 2007

    Another disaster averted...a calamity brought under control....!!
    In true National Enquirer style, the news media stumbles on....

  • Hangn in there Jun 30, 2007

    Mallinckrodt has a very good record. As for the evacuate the Medical plant on Durant Rd. it was time for everyone that works first shift to get off. No big deal!!! It must have been a really slow day in the news department to pound this story. It was not a problem from the get go. And that is coming from someone that was there at the plant.

  • SailbadTheSinner Jun 30, 2007

    I’m absolutely appalled at the hoopla about this “incident”.

    The reason that containment barriers are in place around hazardous materials is to contain a spill. It looks like that is exactly what happened.

    What’s the big deal ....

    STS

  • Mister Jim Jun 29, 2007

    I wonder how many trees are going to die this time????

  • Mr. Joe Jun 29, 2007

    Who is this JoAnna Schooler? Is she the Plant Manager? I just heard on TV that Tyco Healthcare Mallinckrodt (a union plant) in St. Louis had a simular release that hurt 3-employees a couple of weeks ago.