A chemical spill at a liquid blending facility in Waxahachie, TX, prompted the evacuation of all buildings within a half-mile radius of the facility Monday.
Hazmat crews responded to a spill of liquid sodium chlorite at Magnablend’s Texas Liquid Facility in the city of Waxahachie, a spokesperson said.
Workers were moving a 300-gallon cube-shaped container called a “tote” when a reaction occurred inside the tote, which then ruptured with a loud boom, a spokesperson. The contents poured out and employees called the fire department.
Firefighters arrived on the scene, but had to leave the facility and relocate to a nearby overpass as hazmat crews determined how best to clean up the spill.
There were no injuries in the incident and officials later lifted the precautionary evacuation.
Magnablend’s Texas Liquid Facility is a 76,000 square foot liquid mixing and storage facility with 30 liquid mixing tanks ranging from 250-to-10,000 gallons that attaches to a seven-car rail spur.
The chemical that spilled is sodium chlorite, which is a mixture of the elements sodium, chlorine and oxygen. In this case, it was in liquid form. It commonly works as an oxidizing agent for pesticides and herbicides. Under high heat, it can be explosive, and breathing chlorine fumes can be harmful.
Employees are unsure what caused the rupture, as only liquid sodium chlorite was in the tote, said Magnablend spokesperson Alison Jahn. Hazmat investigators will be looking into whether the sodium chlorite reacted with another material, or if there was residue from another chemical in the tote, she said.
Sodium chlorite is relatively benign, unlike the chemical mixture that set off a blast at another Magnablend facility in Waxahachie in October 2011.
The Magnablend plant that erupted in billowing plumes of fire in 2011 ended up used for blending chemicals for the fracking process. No one suffered an injury in that incident either.
In 2012, Magnablend ended up fined by the state and federal government just over $80,000 for safety violations in connection with that fire.
Investigators from the EPA and the state were on site conducting an investigation.