17 April 2009 16:09 [Source: ICIS news]
Correction: In the ICIS news story headlined “Arkansas declares emergency after hydrofluoric acid leak” dated 17 April 2009, please read the headline as “… on report of faulty tank …” instead of “… after hydrofluoric acid leak …”HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Arkansas has declared a state of emergency for the city of Norphlet after US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials found 7,800 gallons of hydrofluoric acid improperly stored at a shuttered chemical plant there, the Arkansas State Department of Environmental Quality said on Friday.
While the town was not evacuated, the local school district closed as a precaution.
News reports have indicated that at least one crack was present in the tank, although the state said it could not confirm until an engineer submits findings later on Friday. The department said officials with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were on-site Friday morning conducting evaluations.
“The dilapidated condition of the storage tank poses an imminent threat of release of hydrofluoric acid, which in turn poses an imminent and substantial danger to the public health, safety and welfare, and to the environment in general,” the emergency order said.
The chemical is irritating to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes, and breathing it could potentially be fatal depending on the concentration level of the gas.
The plant, owned by Norphlet Chemical, was completed in 2007, but never went into operation due to financing problems.
Norphlet Chemical did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
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