There was a hazardous materials (HazMat) incident Thursday morning when a Town of Bath, WV, water treatment facility worker, during a normal chlorine cylinder change, noted the odor of chlorine.
Workers followed the facility safety procedure to check for a leak, and a leak was found. The facility was evacuated, and workers called the fire department.
The standard personal protective equipment is not appropriate for making entry into a building with an active chlorine leak, according to a post on the company’s social media Thursday morning.
“… While the additional units were enroute, it was determined that entry would be made by HazMat personnel once they arrived to secure the valve to the possible leaking cylinder and Morgan County EMS was added for on scene stand by, as well as pre and post entry medical evaluations,” the post said.
At 10:04 a.m., Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company crews made entry in Level A suits, quickly securing what was thought to be a faulty cylinder. Interior operations were completed at 10:15 a.m., and the building was then ventilated to remove all hazardous vapors.
“Once it was determined the building was safe for re-entry, facility staff entered to restart the normal operation, and it was determined that while the cylinder was leaking it was from a connection with a meter not a faulty cylinder, and the meter was taken out of service to be replaced,” company officials said in the post.
Officials said there was no report of injuries to any facility workers, responders or members of the public.
The area was monitored for air quality, but no businesses were closed or evacuated with the exception for the water treatment facility during the operation.
Officials said there was initial resistance which was met with the decision of on-scene personnel to request and await a HazMat Team.
“Some felt that regular day-to-day PPE and an air-pack would be suffice to enter the dangerous atmosphere to shut off the valve. They were quickly informed that crews would continue to await a HazMat team and no further resistance was met,” fire officials said in a release.
Linked to the online press release, the company highlighted an information article on protective equipment, which indicated that structural firefighting protective clothing is not effective in chlorine spill/leak situations and is to be worn in fires only.
“Contact with chlorine vapors can cause chemical burns to the skin and airway if not in the proper protective equipment hence the reason for requiring a HazMat team this morning,” fire officials said in a release.