Hydrochloric acid spill in northeast Edmonton poses minimal public risk, fire spokesman says, Cleanup will take several days

Hydrochloric acid spill in northeast Edmonton poses minimal public risk, fire spokesman says, Cleanup will take several days by Andrea Sands, December 9, 2012, Edmonton Journal

A chemical spill of hydrochloric acid leaked from a huge holding tank in northeast Edmonton Sunday when cold weather apparently caused a sealed window on the side of the tank to pop loose, says the assistant manager of Panther Industries Inc.

Hazardous materials crews were called to 12061 32nd Street at 10:22 a.m. Sunday where the leak had caused a cloud of gas in the area, said Edmonton Fire Rescue spokesman Michael Tucker. Fire officials said a significant amount of hydrochloric acid leaked from two 100,000-litre holding tanks, likely because of a mechanical malfunction. Businesses within two blocks of the spill were evacuated. The leak happened in an industrial area. … Authorities stopped the leak just after 1 p.m. and sucked up the hydrochloric acid with a stainless steel vacuum truck. The cleanup is expected to take several days.
Each tank has a round window on a PVC rim that is bolted to the tank, said Clayton Schneider from the Panther Industries head office in Davidson, Sask., which is about halfway between Saskatoon and Regina.  “We figure it was on too tight and there was not enough room for the material to contract through temperature changes,” Schneider said. “There wasn’t enough room for those bolts to move and it actually took that sight glass off of the bin, but only on the top and the bottom. Of course, it’s got to be air tight, and that’s where the leak came out.” The tank is one of six tanks the company recently installed within a huge berm, a cement basin with a rubber liner designed to catch and neutralize hydrochloric acid if a tank leaks, Schneider said. An employee arrived at work Sunday morning, noticed the leak and immediately contacted the plant manager, who followed the emergency response plan and contacted firefighters, police, the City of Edmonton, Alberta Environment and Panther Industries’ emergency response team, Schneider said.
“Our berm caught the majority of it and some came out over top of the berm onto our site,” he said.

Panther Industries sells hydrochloric acid to clients in the oil and gas industry who use it in the extraction process, Schneider said. The chemical spill doesn’t appear to be a significant public safety risk, deputy fire chief John Lamb said from the scene. “There is a slight cloud that’s been issuing from the spill. It’s going directly north and we’ve evacuated everybody north of there. It’s a light industrial area. Thank goodness it’s Sunday and there’s not a lot of folks working,” Lamb said. … Six tanks at the site contain about 100,000 litres of hydrochloric acid and the catch basin can contain spills up to 100,000 litres plus 10 per cent, Lamb said. “Some product has gone over the bank but we’re not sure exactly how much at this point,” Lamb said.
Now, emergency officials are trying to minimize any environmental damaged caused by the spill, he said. “(We are) making sure that it hasn’t got into any drainage systems and making sure nobody wanders into the area and gets involved in the cloud of gas.”

Panther Industries has served the oil and gas industry in North America and overseas for more than 30 years, according to the company’s website. In 2007, Panther Industries made the top 100 Saskatchewan companies with gross sales of $23,600,000. … The acid is corrosive to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes.
Occupational Health and Safety is aware of the spill but officials there have not yet determined if they will investigate, said spokesman Charles Strachey. [Emphasis added]

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