Atchison, Kansas Chemical Spill
A little less than a month ago a small town near Kansas City, Kansas got a nasty surprise. According to local news reports a chemical spill at MGP Ingredients in Atchison caused quite stir around 8:00 in the morning.
The Kansas City Star reported the spill resulted in a mixing of Sodium Hypochlorite and Sulfuric Acid. The reaction of the two chemicals created a thick fog that covered much of downtown and areas north and west of there. Several areas were told to evacuate while others were told to “shelter in place” with doors and windows shut. Click here to view a video taken by drone of the chemical plume. By 11:00 am officials reported the spill under control and people were allowed back into their homes and business. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent personnel to assist in the investigation.
Thanks to a good communication between MPG Ingredients, the City of Atchison and the local Fire/Emergency crews there were no serious injuries reported. Those caught in the fog, roughly 34 townspeople, had respiratory issues including coughing and difficulty breathing. At the time the article was written, there was no word on the number of affected MGP employees.
The key take away from this story is the communication element. It took less than 3 hours for this spill to be handled and for folks to be safely back at home, school or work. If MGP Ingredients had not reported the spill promptly, then the number of injuries would be higher. If local officials had not responded as quickly as they did by using the radio and social media, then the number of injuries would be much higher. If the local fire crew had not known what was needed to help the fog dissipate, then the number of injuries would be much higher.
There are always those that complain about updating hazard communication plans, workplace labels, safety data sheets, and evacuation plans. For those my response is simple. Here is the reason we do this. Here is why they are needed. Given the scope of the cloud and the area it covered, consider how many people were at risk. Had things been handled differently a much worse outcome is a definite.
As always, ICC Compliance Center is here to help you with all of your regulatory needs. For more information on our supplies and services visit our website: http://www.thecompliancecenter.com.