Chemical incident closed, residents return home

Reported by: Henry Ramos
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Updated: 5/09/2013 10:27 pm
After being roused in the dead of night and strongly encouraged to clear out by numerous LPD officers, about 100 families are back in their homes in the Guadalupe Neighborhood.

A chemical leak in northeast Lubbock prompted an evacuation for countless residents. The hydrogen chloride gas leak was at the Bayer Crop Science facility at 103 Erskine. Residents from North Ash & Erskine to Avenue L & Marsha Sharp Freeway to Mackenzie Park were evacuated.

The reverse 911 system was used to evacuate residents, along with emergency responders going through the neighborhood. The fire department took the precaution to evacuate about 100 homes due to the toxic nature of the material which can become hydrochloric acid when it reacts with moisture.

However, on Thursday afternoon the evacuation was lifted for a section of the Guadalupe neighborhood in north and east Lubbock as a hazardous materials crew was able to secure a leaking cylinder of hydrogen chloride.

Draining that leaking tank has moved at a pace much quicker than anticipated. The Hazmat Air-Gas crew from Dallas reported it had transferred all the hydrogen chloride to a new container.  The immediate area around 103 Erskine will remain off limits Thursday night, but all neighboring streets and businesses will be accessible Friday morning.  

Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Loveless reported there are no injuries from the leak. The leak was described as a slow hiss.

Bayer Vice President Monty Christian told us this chemical is used to de-lint cotton. It doesn't pose an explosive threat but can be dangerous to people.

The phone at Bucks Engines was ringing off the hook. The irrigation engine sales company is just across the street from the leaking trailer.

Employee Sheri Hennigan said, "It's pretty dead and slow isn't it." We will catch up on some paperwork I guess."

Hennigan regrets losing a day of sales during a busy time of year.

"This is a big time for us," she said. "The guys are getting ready to plant all the local farmers."

Loveless reported that after roughly 16 hours of leaking potentially poisonous gas into the air, the pressure in the tank had been lowered enough that the leak no longer presented a threat.  

OSHA inspectors were also on site Thursday. Christian said the feds will advise the company of changes that need to be made to the safety protocol.  OSHA will also counsel Air-Gas which operates the tank trailer that leaked.

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rdsjw967 - 5/10/2013 10:21 AM
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this story has been milked for all its worth now move on!!
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