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Dealing with Chemical Emergencies - Student Handout

Hazardous Materials Emergencies

Charlotte, New York, April 1995. A fire started at a tire dump in Charlotte, Chatauqua County, New York, about 40 miles southwest of Buffalo. The dump covers about 15 acres and holds from 2 to 3 million tires, which are stacked 12-30 feet deep throughout the dump. The cause of the fire was unknown. About 33 local fire companies responded and began efforts to isolate and control the fire, which engulfed 4 to 5 acres. Response personnel set up a containment area for runoff. EPA's On-Scene Coordinator responded to the scene to provide air monitoring and technical support to local response personnel.

Lodi, New Jersey, April 1995. An explosion and fire at a plant that manufactures pharmaceutical chemicals killed at least 2 people, injured 12 others, and caused the evacuation of about 900 residents and schoolchildren in the area. EPA's On-Scene Coordinator and the Agency's Environmental Response Team responded to help local and state officials with air and water monitoring at the site. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard sent a team to monitor the runoff of water used for firefighting into the Saddle River, where there were reports that fish had died.

Jackson, Mississippi, April 1995. More than 200 vials of the chemical phosgene and compounds used in tear gas were dug up during construction of a trench at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. The vials reportedly came from World War I chemical warfare "test kits," buried in the 1930s in a pond that was later filled with dirt. EPA's On-Scene Coordinator provided on-site air monitoring and technical advice. U.S. Army teams inventoried the vials and packaged them for transfer to a military base for treatment and disposal.

Sargent Bluff, Iowa, December 1994. A rupture in a natural gas pipeline caused an explosion at a facility, about 15 miles south of Sioux City, Iowa, that manufactures urea and ammonium nitrate for fertilizer. The explosion reportedly killed 4 people and injured at least 30. The incident was initially reported by a nearby resident who said there was a strong ammonia smell in the area. Local firefighters and hazardous materials teams responded and evacuated the immediate area. Within an hour, the fire had been extinguished, but the release of contaminants into the air continued. EPA and state government officials were concerned about the additional release of materials, because the plant has large tanks of nitric acid, anhydrous ammonia, and ammonium nitrate that may have been impacted by the explosion. The facility is located along the banks of the Missouri River.

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