Shelter in place lifted after ‘highly toxic’ chemical leak in Buckeye

BUCKEYE, AZ (AZFamily) — Residents and visitors to a Buckeye neighborhood can now resume normal activities after a chemical leak sent a toxic orange cloud dangerously close to homes.

Photos of an orange haze could be seen by viewers of Arizona’s family.(Arizona’s family via Zeam)

The first reports of a dangerous situation came around 5 p.m. at a chemical manufacturing company near Southern Avenue and Rainbow Road. Video from Arizona’s Family News helicopter showed an orange cloud billowing from the Thatcher Company of Arizona, part of the Thatcher Group.

What is this orange cloud? Is this dangerous for my health?

Family Investigates of Arizona has learned that two chemicals, nitric acid and ammonia, are associated with the Arizona plant.

Since ammonia is a colorless gas, the orange cloud is believed to be nitric acid, which is extremely dangerous to human health.

According to the National Library of Medicine, nitric acid is “very toxic by inhalation” and “corrosive to metals or fabrics.”

What should I do if I have been exposed to nitric acid?

The following guidance is provided by the Harvard University Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

  • SKIN CONTACT: Flush skin with lukewarm water for 15 minutes using the nearest available sink, portable garden hose, or safety shower. Remove all exposed clothing and jewelry that may retain nitric acid. Call 911 on a landline for medical assistance (or provide a location if calling on a cell phone).
  • EYE CONTACT: Using eye drops, rinse eyes while keeping eyelids open. Call 911 for medical assistance. Continue to flush eyes with water until emergency medical personnel arrive.
  • INHALATION: If you inhale nitric acid mists or vapors, move to fresh air immediately and call 911 for medical assistance.
  • INGESTION: Do not induce vomiting. Call 911 on a landline for medical assistance. Do not put anything in the mouth of an unconscious person

A similar incident in the Tucson area prompted Pima County health officials to ask anyone who met or exceeded that 15-minute exposure and developed breathing difficulties or new symptoms to seek medical attention.

Symptoms could include wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and exacerbations of COPD or asthma, health officials said.

What do we know about Thatcher?

Currently, four of Thatcher’s plants are in active violation of the EPA and are subject to compliance monitoring. None of these factories are in Arizona.

The U.S. Department of Environmental Quality has already reached a settlement with Thatcher Company of Nevada over a series of violations at the company’s plants in Sparks, Nevada.

During a November 2021 inspection and subsequent investigation, the EPA determined that the facility did not have required safety information for equipment inside its storage and reconditioning warehouse. chemicals,” federal officials said.

Thatcher was fined $69,396 and ordered to purchase an environmental project valued at $110,000.

In 2019, more than 50 people were treated after a “significant” leak at the company’s Salt Lake City plant, according to the Deseret News.

How are the crews reacting to the leak?

Shelter-in-place order map
Shelter-in-place order map(Arizona Family)

The Buckeye Police Department ordered a shelter in place from Rainbow Road to Verrado Way and between Southern Avenue and Yuma Road. It was lifted at 7 p.m.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality confirmed it was aware of the leak, but local fire crews said there was no need for ADEQ to respond since the leak is contained near the installation.

“Our emergency response unit remains on standby and is ready to intervene if the situation changes,” reads the ADEQ press release.

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