Published Thursday, March 17, 2011
The Newnan Times-Herald
A chemical spill at the CLM waste transfer station on Werz Industrial Boulevard Wednesday morning sent three employees to the hospital for evaluation.
Newnan Fire Department responded to the call, and the spill was ultimately cleaned up by a professional hazardous materials company, according to Newnan Fire Department Battalion Chief Denise Freeman.
The incident occurred just after 10 a.m. at 129 Werz Industrial Boulevard -- a CLM Sanitation-operated transfer station where waste is sorted and shipped to various locations. The call was dispatched as a possible fire that began as the result of chemicals that had been mixed together. Newnan Engine 1 was the first to arrive at the scene. Firefighters reported finding a white vapor coming from the building. Sgt. Bart Henson ordered three employees to evacuate the immediate vicinity, according to Freeman.
One of the employees reported that he was moving a pile of debris when it began smoking. Assuming it was a fire, he poured water on it, but the debris started "popping and smoking more," according to Freeman.
Those three employees were decontaminated at the scene and then transported to Piedmont Newnan Hospital where they were treated and released after a brief evaluation, according to Freeman.
Two firefighters -- Travis Hall and Ryan Brodowski -- performed reconnaissance on the site and reported one 55-gallon drum and one 5-gallon pail in the pile of debris emitting the white smoke.
A fire department team dressed in full protective hazardous materials suits investigated the situation. Firefighters discovered that the 55-gallon drum had a label on it identifying the chemical inside as sodium hydroxide. The fire department determined that the 5-gallon pail contained calcium hypochlorite after evidence was analyzed at the haz-mat command post, according to Freeman.
The department also learned that the calcium hypochlorite had leaked into the large debris piles, causing the chemical reaction.
"The entry team was able to move both containers away from the debris piles to prevent further contamination," said Freeman.
Fire officials made the decision at that point to call Rhino Services -- a professional hazardous materials decontamination company -- to remove the debris piles from the building.
"The two individual chemicals are stable when isolated, but it is highly probable they are much more volatile when combined," said Freeman. "Additionally, it was unknown what other chemicals might have been in the debris pile."
Rhino Services arrived at the scene just before 1 p.m. After an assessment of the scene, employees discovered chlorine tables, fertilizer bags and lime bags in the debris.
Newnan Fire Department remained on the scene to provide assistance until just after 3 p.m. when Rhino completed its initial clean-up of the site and all danger of fire or other chemical reactions was eliminated.