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Chlorine gas accident in middle of night – Dozens of Sheffield residents evacuated – PHOTOS

By  | September 8, 2019 | Filed under: News

SHEFFIELD – Emergency responders from Sheffield Police, Fire and Rescue were on scene at approximately 1:30 this morning near Village One. There had been an accidental release of deadly chlorine gas at the nearby Sheffield Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Police and Fire personnel from all shifts responded to the area near Blackwell and Village Roads and fanned out into the surrounding neighborhoods, using loudspeakers as well as going door-to-door to evacuate sleepy residents from their homes.

The emergency evacuation, according to Utilities Supervisor, Tommy Barnes, happened when a tank containing 150 pounds of pure chlorine accidentally discharged almost all of its contents as it was being connected to the wastewater purification system. The amount released was about 130 pounds.

No one was reportedly hurt by the gas. The fast response of Police and Fire personnel, along with a light prevailing wind that blew the gas plume out over the Tennessee River where it dissipated, minimized the threat. Authorities were taking no chances, however, as they evacuated the treatment plant’s adjoining neighborhoods to the Sheffield Recreation Center.

About 50 people went to the Rec Center for safety, and according to a uniformed Sheffield officer, and many more people left the Village area to hole-up away from the evacuation zone. The leak was stopped, and the “all-clear” was given a few hours later.

It is expected that about mid-day today, technicians from Sheffield’s chlorine system provider will arrive at the plant to asses the situation and make repairs as needed to render the system functional and safe.

According to various Web searches, Chlorine is a toxic gas that irritates the skin, the eyes and the respiratory system. Chlorine is a greenish-yellow, dense gas with a sharp smell (the smell of bleach). It is not found free in nature as it combines readily with nearly all other elements.

Chlorine gas is a pulmonary irritant with intermediate water solubility that causes acute damage in the upper and lower respiratory tract. Currently, occupational exposures constitute the highest risk for serious toxicity from high-concentration chlorine.

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