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Minor Chlorine Leak Sends Hazmat to Water Plant; Operations Normal

Officials: Malfunctioning valve did not affect water treatment

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
November 15, 2019
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport firefighters and Allegheny County hazardous materials teams responded to a chlorine leak Thursday morning at the McKeesport Water Treatment Plant.

Matthew Junker, spokesman for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, said the chlorine was isolated to a single building and water treatment operations at the plant were not affected.

Emergency crews were notified when workers detected a “slight chlorine smell” in the room where the tanks are housed, Junker said.

Chlorine has been used to disinfect drinking water since the 1940s and is commonly transported in pressurized gas cylinders. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, chlorine gas is highly corrosive and exposure to large quantities of it in a short period of time can cause severe difficulty breathing.

McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik said city firefighters arrived at about 8 a.m. and found that a leak had developed around a valve on a one-ton pressurized cylinder. The escaping gas was confined to the building where the cylinder was located, he said.

Allegheny County's red and green hazmat teams responded, encapsulated the cylinder and stopped the leak, Tomovcsik said.

No injuries or illnesses were reported, he said.

Junker said the tank manufacturer was called to the scene and removed the defective cylinder. Plant operations were not affected, he said.

Originally published November 15, 2019.

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