Chemical leak at Renosol called for evacuation

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

A small chemical leak at the Renosol plant Friday morning sent at least 13 employees to the hospital, and caused the evacuation of the facility, which is located at the Craig Field Industrial Park.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., the company had a mechanical equipment failure that resulted in the leak, according to a press release from Renosol.

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The Renosol plant and nearby Meadowcraft were evacuated. By about 9:30 a.m., the Meadowcraft employees were back at work, officials said.

According to the press release, approximately 13 Renosol employees who had potential contact with the material were sent to Vaughan Regional Medical Center for examination. &8220;This is a standard precautionary measure and all employees have been examined and released,&8221; according to the press release.

Fire Chief Henry Allen said the Selma Fire Department de-contaminated 13 of the employees who were then transported to Vaughan Regional Medical Center. &8220;We want to make sure they’re carrying no chemicals to the hospital,&8221; he said.

The hospital reported 15 patients coming into the emergency room with exposure to a chemical coming from the Renosol plant, according to Barry Keel, CEO of Vaughan.

The Poison Control Center and local and state Emergency Management officials were notified, he said.

The employees were exposed to toluene diisocyanate, which is harmful if inhaled and can cause respiratory problems, including asthma.

At the time of the incident, &8220;the certified Renosol Hazmat team was activated and has been on site since the initial leak,&8221; according to the press release. &8220;This team reacted quickly with clean up and remediation of the material. Throughout the cleanup and remediation process, monitoring for unacceptable environmental conditions was conducted.&8221;

Dearman said Renosol &8220;had a team in there cleaning up when we arrived,&8221; he said.

The company’s statement said, &8220;there was no environmental risk to the surrounding area and as of 2:30 p.m. (Friday) the plant environment has returned to normal.&8221;

According to information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toluene diisocyanate is primarily used as a chemical intermediate in the production of polyurenthane products. According to the EPA, &8220;the chemical is extremely toxic from acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) exposures.&8221;