A chemical manufacturing plant in Atchison, Kansas released a cloud of toxic gas today, injuring dozens. The toxic cloud released by the facility, operated by MGP Ingredients, Inc., consisted of sulfuric acid and sodium hypochlorite. Witnesses reported that the cloud was so thick that they could not see more than two feet in front of them.
According to Atchison City Manager Trey Cocking, the incident was caused when the two chemicals were inadvertently mixed together after a delivery at around 8:00 a.m. The City of Atchison posted multiple warnings on social media, advising residents to seek shelter and stay out of the toxic plume. A meteorologist, Jonathan Erdman, opined that the plume could hand around for at least a few hours, and the City might need a “windy day” to disperse the toxic gas. Nonetheless, the City declared via its Twitter feed that “it is now safe to go outside” around 11:00 a.m.
During a press conference today regarding the toxic mistake, Cocking fell over himself to compliment MGP, calling the company a “great partner” for the city, despite the fact that the boneheaded mistake of mixing two incredibly dangerous chemicals had been made just hours prior, endangering over 11,000 Atchison citizens. He was quick to affirm that no one was seriously injured, despite the fact that injured citizens were still hospitalized, and that long-term effects of the toxic exposure are likely. Indeed, other sources reported that at least one person is being treated in the intensive care unit, and that at least 50 people have been injured.
MGP Ingredients, according to its website, provides ingredients to producers of processed food and beverages. Photographs of the incident showed thick grey clouds billowing over MGP’s plant. Residents, as well as the students and faculty of Benedictine college, evacuated the area. The authorities also closed some roads leading to the area.
Witnesses described a scene of total chaos as the toxic plume spread. Residents stumbled through the fog, coughing and struggling to breathe. The EPA and other federal agencies have announced that they will be sending teams of investigators to the scene of the incident.
Sodium hydroxide is the main ingredient in bleach, while sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive mineral acid that can cause severe chemical burns. When mixed together, these two chemicals release chlorine, a toxic gas that attacks the respiratory system, eyes and skin. Chlorine is denser than air, so tends to build up, especially in confined spaces such as buildings and homes. At higher concentrations, chlorine causes coughing, vomiting, lung damage, and death.
The attorneys at Keane Law LLC are experienced in representing victims of toxic exposure. If you or a loved one has been injured by toxic chemicals released due to negligence, you may have a claim for damages. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.