South Charleston residents safe after morning chlorine spill

South Charleston residents are safe after many were ordered to shelter in place early Thursday morning.
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 5:49 PM EDT
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SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - South Charleston residents are safe after many were ordered to shelter in place early Thursday morning.

The order was issued after a 30-gallon pail of chlorinated dry bleach was found decomposing at Clearon’s Ordinance Center.

Kanawha County Emergency Management Director C.W. Sigman said South Charleston fire crews were initially called on reports of a fire alarm at the plant.

Once firefighters arrived, they discovered the leak and used thermal imaging to determine where exactly it originated.

Kanawha County issued the shelter in place from the area of Montrose Drive to Jefferson Road after many saw haze and smelled chlorine.

Steve Toler has lived up the street from the South Charleston Industrial Park, which houses Clearon, for more than two decades.

He said he was already awake when he noticed unusual activity.

“I heard the siren go off, so I knew something was up,” Toler said. “I turned the television on and got the news and found out there was a spill.”

Most residents on Toler’s street said they were not aware of the leak until after the shelter-in-place order was lifted, just after 7 am.

Sigman said that is actually the preferred situation because a more active community could have made the situation worse.

“More people out would be an issue,” Sigman said. “It was an abundance of caution just to be on the safe side. If we had not activated it, would anyone have gotten hurt? Probably not but we want people to have faith we’re gonna set the alarm off if something happens.”

“We went to a lot larger area than what was necessary because you always want to give geographic landmarks when issuing a shelter in place. You don’t want to say just west of the plant, east of the plant, you gotta quantify those numbers,” he added.

Toler said he trusts his neighbors.

“I never had any problem, I lived around all my life I been here 50 years I never had any problem working with them,” he said.

“They’re pretty smart people, they’re right on the ball. I have confidence in those people.”

It was not exactly clear what caused the initial leak. Clearon has not responded to our inquiry.

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