Chlorine Released During Leak at Plant in South Charleston

SCHOOLS SHELTER IN PLACE DURING CHEMICAL LEAK

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Nearly a dozen schools sheltered in place for around an hour during a chemical leak in Charleston. Staff say the real life situation went as smoothly as possible.

It could have been a scary situation. On Wednesday morning, young students were told this: "There was something outside that's making everybody sick, but we didn't go outside today," said Konnor, a 5-year-old preschool student.

Bridgeview Elementary office assistant Jessy Davis said, "We brought everyone downstairs so we know they're all accounted for. The teacher's have lists with their names. They do the count."

Staff follow a list of steps -- starting with gathering students in the hallway, then taping the doors shut and putting up signs saying "shelter in place." With nearly 500 students at Bridgeview, steps like these must be practiced and followed. Konnor knew exactly what to do. "Sit in the hallway and then be quiet."
 

Staff know one of the most important steps to keeping the students safe, is keeping them calm. Davis said, "By us staying calm, the adults, all of the kids felt like, 'oh this is OK, so we all just stayed really calm.' "
 

UPDATE 10/2/13 @ 1:50 p.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The cause of a chemical spill that forced thousands to shelter in place in the Kanawha Valley remains under investigation.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, the plant manager at Clearon in South Charleston announced the cause of the leak is unknown.

According to the plant manager, chlorine was released from its facility at 8:25 a.m. Clearon is located along MacCorkle Avenue.

118 employees were at the plant at the time of the release. The plant manager says no one was seriously hurt, but one employee was taken to the hospital after becoming stressed. That employee is now back at work.

Kanawha County Emergency Management has been on scene since the initial call.

OSHA is also on scene investigating the incident.

A shelter in place was issued shortly after the incident for the area west of the Mound in South Charleston, Spring Hill, North Charleston and the city of Dunbar. It was lifted just after 10 a.m.

The plant manager says the shelter in place was issued only as a precaution. The chemical leak was not believed to be a real threat to the public.

The city of South Charleston also held a news release to talk about the incident.

Mayor Frank Mullens says first responders faced some challenges at the scene, including working through crowded, tight spaces within the plant. A couple of firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion due to those conditions, according to Mullens.

Emergency responders say the company was helpful during the leak and followed proper protocol, according to Mullens.

Emergency officials say the chemical left in air is not strong enough to cause any problems or illness.

Clearon Corp. is a premier, world-class manufacturer and worldwide supplier of water treatment chemicals, according to the company's website.

Clearon employs 120 people at its South Charleston facility. The company bought the facility from Olin who purchased it from FMC, according to county records. Clearon has been operating in South Charleston since 1995.

Clearon also operates a tableting plant in Ordinance Park.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/2/13 @ 11:50 a.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- One person has been taken to the hospital after a chemical leak in South Charleston.

The leak was reported at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday at Clearon along MacCorkle Avenue in South Charleston.

South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens tells WSAZ.com a plant employee was taken to the hospital only as a precaution. A couple of firefighters were also treated at the scene for heat exhaustion, according to Mullens. No serious injuries have been reported.

The chemical released was chlorinated dry bleach, according to a news release. Sources tell WSAZ.com the chemical is used in cleaning supplies and in swimming pool products.

Right now, investigators are still trying to figure out how much of the chemical was released.

A shelter in place was issued shortly after the incident for the area west of the Mound in South Charleston, Spring Hill, North Charleston and the city of Dunbar. It was lifted just after 10 a.m.

The county's Emergency Management crew remains on scene investigating the incident.

Jennifer Sayre, county manager reports the situation appears to be stable. Crews will continue to monitor the situation and advise the public of any changes.

Our crew at the scene reports two ambulances have been at the plant.

Sayre tells WSAZ.com it's still unclear how much of the chemical has been released. However, it does not appear there was a large amount released.

If this would have been a major release, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board would have been called in to investigate.

However, WSAZ.com has learned the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is currently shut down due to the recent furloughs issued after Tuesday's government shutdown.

Hillary J. Cohen, Communications Manager for the U.S. Safety Board, issued a statement saying "the agency has effectively shut down and all chemical accident investigators have been furloughed. We have a skeleton crew of 3 people on duty, to reopen the agency whenever that is warranted."

A spokesperson with the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety tells WSAZ.com no matter the extent of the emergency, first responders remain on duty, despite the furloughs issued on Monday. Agencies affected by the furloughs, including the CSB, FEMA, EPA and MSHA have contingency plans in case a major disaster would happen during the government shut down.

Clearon Corp. is a premier, world-class manufacturer and worldwide supplier of water treatment chemicals, according to the company's website.

Clearon employees 120 people at its South Charleston facility. The company bought the facility from Olin who purchased it from FMC, according to county records. Clearon has been operating in South Charleston since 1995.

Clearon also operates a tableting plant in Ordinance Park.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE @ 10:15 a.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A shelter in place has been lifted after a chemical leak in South Charleston.

According to Metro 911, the shelter in place was lifted just after 10 a.m. for the area west of the Mound in South Charleston, Spring Hill, North Charleston and the city of Dunbar.

Jennifer Sayre, Kanawha County Manager, says crews from Clearon Corporation contacted Metro 911 to report a leak at its plant along MacCorkle Avenue. The call came into Metro at 8:46 a.m.

The chemical released was chlorinated dry bleach, according to a news release. Sources tell WSAZ.com the chemical is used in cleaning supplies and in swimming pool products.

The county's Emergency Management crew is on scene at the Clearon Plant evaluating the situation, Sayre said.

At this time, Sayre reports the situation appears to be stable. Crews will continue to monitor the situation and advise the public of any changes.

Our crew at the scene reports two ambulances have now arrived at the plant. However, no other information is being released at this time.

Sayre tells WSAZ.com it's still unclear how much of the chemical has been released or if there are any injuries. However, it does not appear there was a large amount released.

If this would have been a major release, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board would have been called in to investigate.

However, WSAZ.com has learned the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is currently shut down due to the recent furloughs issued after Tuesday's government shutdown.

Hillary J. Cohen, Communications Manager for the U.S. Safety Board, issued a statement saying "the agency has effectively shut down and all chemical accident investigators have been furloughed. We have a skeleton crew of 3 people on duty, to reopen the agency whenever that is warranted."

Again, Sayre reports at this point, it appears federal investigators won't be needed.

Clearon Corp. is a premier, world-class manufacturer and worldwide supplier of water treatment chemicals, according to the company's website.

Clearon employees 120 people at its South Charleston facility. The company bought the facility from Olin who purchased it from FMC, according to county records. Clearon has been operating in South Charleston since 1995.

Clearon also operates a tableting plant in Ordinance Park.

Clearon actually shut down its facility last April due to market conditions. However, Mayor Mullens says it reopened by the end of 2012.

The plant manager is expected to release more information at 1:30 p.m. today.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A shelter in place has now been issued in the Kanawha Valley after a chemical leak.

C.W. Sigman with Emergency Management tells WSAZ.com a shelter in place has now been issued for areas west of the Clearon facility in South Charleston. This would include the area near the Mound in South Charleston, Spring Hill, North Charleston and the city of Dunbar.

According to a spokesperson with Kanawha County Schools, schools in Dunbar, South Charleston and North Charleston are sheltering in place.

Jennifer Sayre, County Manager, says crews from Clearon Corporation contacted Metro 911 to report a leak at its plant along MacCorkle Avenue. The call came into Metro at 8:46 a.m.

The chemical release was chlorinated dry bleach, according to a news release.

The county's Emergency Management is on scene at the Clearon Plant evaluating the situation, Sayre said.

At this time, Sayre reports the situation appears to be stable. Crews will continue to monitor the situation and advise the public of any changes.

We have a crew at the scene. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE @ 9:15 a.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Emergency crews are on the scene of a chemical leak in South Charleston where the situation appears to be stable.

Jennifer Sayre, County Manager, says crews from Clearon Corporation contacted Metro 911 to report a leak at its plant along MacCorkle Avenue. The call came into Metro at 8:46 a.m.

The chemical release was chlorinated dry bleach, according to a news release.

The county's Emergency Management is on scene at the Clearon Plant evaluating the situation, Sayre said.

At this time, Sayre reports the situation appears to be stable. Crews will continue to monitor the situation and advise the public of any changes.

We have a crew at the scene. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Emergency crews are investigating a leak at a facility in South Charleston.

Kanawha County 911 Dispatchers tell WSAZ.com an unknown amount of Chlorinated Dry Bleach has leaked from the Clearon along MacCorkle Avenue in South Charleston.

C.W. Sigman with the county's Emergency Management just arrived on scene.

Drivers in the area tell WSAZ.com there is a haze over Dunbar and South Charleston. It's unclear if it is related to the incident.

No other details are being released at this time.

We have a crew headed to the scene. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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