UPDATE: WV DEP to inspect Mason County chemical plant after fire causes shelter-in-place

courtesy of Tara Supple
By  | 

UPDATE 8/31/16 @ 6:53 p.m.
MASON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says it will be inspecting a Mason County chemical plant Thursday after a fire at the plant Wednesday caused a temporary shelter for neighbors.

The WV DEP tweeted this statement out Wednesday evening: "Tomorrow we will have inspectors from our Division of Water & Waste and our Division of Air Quality onsite at the ICL facility."

The fire happened at the ICL chemical plant in Gallipolis Ferry, prompting a shelter-in-place for the area.

Plant officials say no one was hurt in the incident, which led to the temporary closure of state Route 2 in that area and a shelter in place for a 2-mile radius.

"We're very concerned about our community and the people that work here at the plant, and we are usually very cautious and sound that alarm whenever we feel the potential for anything leaving the plant site and going into a neighborhood," said ICL Health Safety and Environmental Director Kurt Dailey. "It doesn't happen particularly often, but it's part of our protocol to make sure we protect the health and safety of the community and the children in the school just down the road from us."

Dailey explained that a leak developed at 12:06 p.m. from the plant's phosphorus unloading facility, causing a fire that led to the shelter-in-place alert.

"Phosphorus fires create a great deal of smoke, and this leak and resulting fire was controlled by plant personnel quickly, and no one was injured during this event," Dailey said. "Plant personnel coordinated with the local 911 center and fire departments to control traffic near the plant, as well as the rail traffic."

The all-clear was announced about 1 p.m.

Dailey said educators at nearby schools know the shelter-in-place protocol, which keeps any kind of leaked material from getting inside a building.

At Beale Elementary, which is just down the road on Rt. 2, went right into their drill according to Principal Pat Brumfield.

"We practice this several times throughout the year," said Brumfield. "The students reacted marvelously, they had no problem with it. They just assumed it was a drill so they weren't panicky."

Brumfield said students were out on the playground when they heard the siren go off at the plant. She says ICL also called them to notify them about the shelter-in-place.

About 300 kids go to the elementary school, Brumfield said. She told WSAZ they immediately followed protocol which was to take the kids and staff to the far end of the building, seal the doors with plastic, turn off the air conditioning so no gas could get in through the vents, bring drinks, snacks and any medications the kids may need if they are stuck for an extended period of time, and throw out any cafeteria food that could have been contaminated.

Brumfield says everything went off without a hitch because the staff stayed calm and worked quickly.

"We were set for quite some time if anything lasting happened," said Brumfield. "They [the staff] were all very professional. No one was upset and panicky and so that kept the kids calm. It just worked out really well today."

The superintendent also commended the staff for how they handled what could have been a high-stress situation.

The school did not have to dismiss early because the shelter-in-place was lifted, but Brumfield says buses were on standby just in case. She says the communication between the plant, the school and the 911 center also helped the afternoon go smoothly.

"It's a really great working relationship that we have," said Brumfield. "We're their [ICL] first call. When they have an incident they call us first and then when it's all clear they call us first."

Dailey also explained that phosphorus is a solid that becomes a liquid when it's heated to a certain temperature. It spontaneously combusts when it comes in contact with oxygen.

There is no current estimate of damage to the ICL plant which manufactures hydraulic fluids and chemicals used in the plastics business.



UPDATE 8/31/16 @ 2:35 p.m.
MASON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- More details are being released about a temporary shelter in place issued Wednesday afternoon for Gallipolis Ferry residents near the ICL chemical plant.

Plant officials say no one was hurt in the incident, which led to the temporary closure of state Route 2 in that area and a shelter in place for a 2-mile radius.

"We're very concerned about our community and the people that work here at the plant, and we are usually very cautious and sound that alarm whenever we feel the potential for anything leaving the plant site and going into a neighborhood," said ICL Health Safety and Environmental Director Kurt Dailey. "It doesn't happen particularly often, but it's part of our protocol to make sure we protect the health and safety of the community and the children in the school just down the road from us."

Dailey explained that a leak developed at 12:06 p.m. from the plant's phosphorus unloading facility, causing a fire that led to the shelter-in-place alert.

"Phosphorus fires create a great deal of smoke, and this leak and resulting fire was controlled by plant personnel quickly, and no one was injured during this event," Dailey said. "Plant personnel coordinated with the local 911 center and fire departments to control traffic near the plant, as well as the rail traffic."

The all-clear was announced about 1 p.m.

Dailey said educators at nearby schools know the shelter-in-place protocol, which keeps any kind of leaked material from getting inside a building.

He also explained that phosphorus is a solid that becomes a liquid when it's heated to a certain temperature. It spontaneously combusts when it comes in contact with oxygen.

There is no current estimate of damage to the ICL plant which manufactures hydraulic fluids and chemicals used in the plastics business.



UPDATE 8/31/16 @ 1:20 p.m.
MASON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A shelter in place has been lifted early Wednesday afternoon after an incident at the ICL chemical plant in Gallipolis Ferry, Mason County 911 reports.

State Route 2 also was temporarily closed in that area, but it has since reopened.

An incident happened at the plant around noon, and a large vapor cloud was visible in the area just afterward.

Details about what happened are unavailable at this time.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



ORIGINAL STORY 8/31/16 @ 12:26 p.m.
MASON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A shelter in place has been issued for a 2-mile radius around the ICL chemical plant in Gallipolis Ferry, Mason County 911 reports.

The incident was reported just after noon.

Mason County 911 also reports that state Route 2 is closed in both directions in that area.

Other details are unavailable at this time.

We have a crew headed to the scene.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.


Traffic backed up in area on state Route 2/Jay Melvin/WSAZ
WSAZ/Kaitlynn LeBeau


 
Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus