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A malfunctioning reactor inside Dover Chemical Corp. last month sent a mixture of steam and decomposing dipropylene glycol into the air, the company said.

The vapor release shut down the plant and caused concerns throughout the area for more than four hours following the 9:19 a.m. incident. Interstate 77 closed in both directions between Dover, OH, and New Philadelphia, plus staff and students from Dover Avenue Elementary were moved to East Elementary as a precaution.

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The May 21 vapor release was a result of an inaccurate raw material charge to the reactor caused by problems with a flow meter, said Tom Freeman, Dover Chemical’s executive vice president of operations. He said the inaccurate charge initiated a reaction that caused the chamber to overheat.

The vapor cloud “was a product of the runaway reaction,” Dover Fire Chief Russ Volkert said in his report.

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Dipropylene glycol commonly sees use as an additive for perfumes, deodorants and in skin and hair care products and not as antifreeze as company officials said when the incident occurred. Freeman said it also is an ingredient in commercial fog fluid, used in entertainment industry’s smoke and haze machines.

In Wednesday’s written statement updating the company’s findings, Freeman said the chamber where the incident occurred has been emptied, cleaned and is undergoing inspection.

“We continue to fully investigate the incident and have started (and will continue) to implement processes and safeguards to prevent a re-occurrence of this incident,” the company said in a statement.

County Hazardous Materials Team members and firefighters from several departments responded to the area May 21 and it turned out seven people ended up treated in area hospitals.

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