A chlorine tank leak at the Washington C.H. water treatment plant/service department created a hazmat situation Friday morning.
“It appears that a chlorine tank had a faulty valve on it, which caused a leak in the cylinder,” Washington C.H. City Manager Joe Denen said Friday. “There were 10 pounds or less in the cylinder. We wanted to be as cautious as we could so we evacuated the plant and the service department. Chlorine is a dangerous substance but we’re talking about a relatively small amount.”
Residents were asked to avoid North North Street near Park Drive at the water treatment plant due to a vapor cloud that was created by the leak at approximately 8:45 a.m. The cloud quickly dissipated, according to authorities. Around 11 a.m., Denen said the leak was contained.
There was no compromise of the city’s water supply, according to Denen. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is expected to come inspect the area sometime next week.
According to Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, there was an initial smell when the leak occurred but it has since dissipated. “Ten pounds is a small amount and once it gets into the ground, it dissipated. There is no smell currently associated with this,” Stanforth said late Friday morning.
Denen said an in-depth inquiry into the cause of the chlorine tank rupture will be conducted.
“We can’t definitively say anything until we get the building all aired out and do a little more investigation,” Denen said. “But every indication is there was probably a faulty valve stem on top of the cylinder.”
Employees at the water treatment plant reentered the building and resumed operations by noon Friday.
A decontamination tent was set up at Fayette County Memorial Hospital Friday as part of normal protocol when a situation like this occurs. Authorities said there was no separate incident at the hospital, contrary to comments made on social media.
Both Washington Court House City Schools and the Miami Trace Local School District sheltered in place Friday morning while the leak was being contained. The students’ parents were also notified of the incident.
Fayette County EMA Director Melissa Havens said she’s been in contact with Ohio EMA and Ohio EPA concerning the leak.
Those responding to the scene included: the Washington Police Department, Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson Township Fire, Wayne Township Fire, Fayette County Emergency Management Agency, and Fayette County EMS.
“All of the responders have done an excellent job in order to make sure everybody was completely safe,” Denen said. “At the end of the day, we just want to make sure everyone goes home safely.”
Stay with the Record-Herald for more on this developing story.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica