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A chemical spill from Wayne Chemical last Tuesday ended up contained by earthen berms dug by the Fort Wayne, IN, Fire Department and a dump truck of clay brought in by City Utilities, said a local Homeland Security director.

Hazardous materials crews got the call to the facility at 11 a.m. Tuesday when the company called to say a leak had occurred, said Adam O’Connor, Fort Wayne Fire Department spokesman.

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The leak of sodium hydroxide, coming from a pipe, was flowing into a regulated ditch that handles storm water from businesses along Homestead Road and some residential areas, said Bernie Beier, director of Allen County Homeland Security.

A spokesman for Wayne Chemical based in New York City said the company believed the amount leaked was 50 gallons and the reason for the leak was under investigation.

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O’Connor described sodium hydroxide as a corrosive agent. Andrew Moesel, the company spokesman, said it is used to make cleaning products for customers.

Beier said the company had stopped the leak by the time the fire department got to the site and dug two ditches “to stop any product from flowing down the hill into the ditch.”

Beier’s agency was there to “trace how far along the product went,” by measuring pH levels, but the measurement would not be able to conclude how much had reached the water.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management also responded to the scene and will oversee cleanup, Beier said.

City Utilities was called to bring a dump truck of clay and deposit it to prevent any additional leakage into the Graham McCulloch Ditch, which is part of the defunct Wabash-Erie Canal that eventually leads to the Wabash River, Beier said.

“The spread of the material is contained,” Moesel said. “We are cooperating with authorities to assess what if any additional remediation needs to be conducted and determining how long that will take.” 

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