The plant, which is situated in Terre Haute’s south side, started to leak the dangerous substance on Saturday afternoon and firefighters who were dispatched said that winds might have spread the fumes in a crowd watching an auto event at the Hulman Mini Speedway.
The crowd at the speedway, as well as between 200 and 300 local residents have been evacuated from the area until the leak was stopped and the air cleared, but some of them were already complaining of issues ranging from respiratory problems (difficult breathing) to facial irritation, throat soreness and nausea. Evacuations were all performed on Saturday and no plans for any such action were outlined for Sunday.
15 people who were in the vicinity of leak have been transported to the Terre Haute Regional Hospital, as they were having severe nausea, burning skin and breathing problems, according to THRS spokeswoman Ann Marie Foote. No patients so far are being treated at the Union Hospital for causes related to the leak. Also, the number of people in attendance at the race has not been confirmed.
“People complained of some breathing difficulty and burning skin,” said Joe Swan of the Terre Haute Fire Department. “We treated it per the INDOT regulations, and from there we’ve got things under control at this time.”
Fortunately, the leak was shut off quite fast by Hydrite Chemical after its source was neutralized. Specialists in hazmat suits and firefighters isolated the area effectively and contained almost immediately after the leak was noticed. The sulfur dioxide has also probably dispersed by now, so there is no risk of an ongoing health crisis, but people who feel the aforementioned symptoms should check with their doctor or go for an examination at the local hospital.
Chemical leaks are becoming an ongoing concern as toxic industries spread throughout the country. In January 2014, a Freedom Industries factory in West Virginia suffered an accident which leaked 7,500 gallons of a dangerous chemical substance named MCHM into the Elk River, which then repeated itself only 6 months later. Environmental activists are pushing for harsher regulations and penalties against companies which own highly polluting chemical facilities, as for example the Kanawha River Valley has experienced no less than five such spills in the last five years.
strong>Image Source: wane.com