Chemical Spill Leads to Temporary Shutdown of Pocahontas Plant

MAY 10, 2005 - Posted at 3:44 p.m. CDT

POCAHONTAS, AR - A chemical spill inside a Pocahontas plant late last night kept firefighters from several Region 8 communities up all night.

At approximately 11:30 p.m., hydrochloric acid was spilled onto the floor at the Waterloo Industries plant, which manufactures tool boxes.  "They had a holding tank of hydrochloric acid that malfunctioned and spilled about 100 gallons in the floor," said Pocahontas Fire Chief Scott Baltz.

The night shift of about 30 employees was evacuated as firefighters from five different departments raced to the plant around midnight.  No one was injured, but there was a lot of work to do.  "They had to basically shovel a whole dump truck full of lime over the scene," said Baltz.  A hazardous materials team was called to the scene to oversee the clean-up.  Hydrochloric acid produces a toxic vapor.  "It'll cause lung problems and if it gets on your skin, it will burn you," added Baltz.

Firefighters remained at the scene until nearly 8 a.m. today.