People flee as chemical cloud hovers near New Columbia

People flee as chemical cloud hovers near New Columbia by Marcia Moore and John Finnerty, August 13, 2012, The Daily Item
Amanda Friend and her family were forced from their home late Thursday after a toxic acid-spewing Halliburton truck hauling 4,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid pulled into a neighboring convenience store. “There was a huge plume in the air and it was just getting bigger and bigger,” Friend said Friday, several hours after the incident at the Short Stop Market parking lot in White Deer Township, Union County. … State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Kevin Sunday said an estimated 250 gallons leaked out and soil tests are being done to determine if there was any contamination. “It’s an acid and it could be very damaging to humans and the environment,” he said. Sunday said the cause of the leak is still under review, but a quarter-sized hole was observed in the truck. It’s too early to determine if penalties will be assessed Halliburton, he added. Halliburton spokesman Susie McMichael said the company was transporting hydrochloric acid for drilling and production support services. … According to the police report, once the acid hits the air it vaporizes, causing a toxic gaseous cloud. … Amanda Friend said her husband, a former environmental services employee who is familiar with hazardous material cleanup procedures, noticed a cloud surrounding the gasoline pumps and saw the truck drivers placing ash on the ground and figured the leak involved acid. “He called 911 and then woke me up,” she said, describing her fear when she saw the cloud of what she thought was smoke grow larger in the night sky. … “When we leaving, the cloud was moving over the school,” Friend said. … Emergency officials worry that accidents involving trucks carrying hazardous materials on the interstate could have an accident that would threaten residents who live in the township. … Fortunately, Maynard said the wind Thursday night was blowing west and carried the cloud away from the village.

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