Local News

July 7, 2014

Chemical accident injures one

An accident Monday morning at a Dalton chemical plant injured one worker and caused officials to briefly close streets around the plant.

The accident happened around 6 a.m. at MFG Chemical on Kimberly Park Drive as workers were mixing chemicals in a reactor.

“We don’t know exactly what happened but the lid did not shut completely or did not shut properly,” said Dalton Fire Chief Bruce Satterfield.

Chemical fumes escaped from the reactor, overcoming one worker.

“It’s our understanding he was right on top of the reactor,” Satterfield said.

The man was taken by ambulance to WellStar Cobb Hospital in Austell. Satterfield did not know the extent of the man’s injuries.

Satterfield said four chemicals were being mixed: maleic anhydride molten low acid grade, alfa olefin 20-24, di-tert-butyl peroxide and aromatic 100 fluid. Officials said the mixture was not poisonous but an irritant.

Satterfield said the chemical reaction did not last long.

“It was probably over before we got our people suited up and ready to go in,” he said.

Asked for information on the accident, MFG President and CEO Charles E. Gavin IV directed a reporter to a press release on the company’s website. In the press release, MFG said the chemical release was “minor” and was contained within the building.

“Professional cleanup is underway; there is no threat to public safety,” the release stated.

But Satterfield said the odor could be smelled nearby, and officials briefly closed down Kimberly Park Drive as well as Willowdale Road and Crow Valley Road, advising those in the area to “shelter in place.”

Satterfield the investigation of the accident will continue.

Officials from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) were on the scene Monday afternoon.

“We do have someone there. But they arrived not too long ago, and we haven’t gotten back any information yet,” said state EPD Director of Compliance Bert Langley.

MFG is privately owned and has been in business for more than 30 years. It has three manufacturing sites and a technical center in Dalton. One of those sites on Callahan Road has seen two serious accidents in the last 10 years.

On April 12, 2004, a runaway chemical reaction during the production of triallyl cyanurate (TAC) released allyl alcohol and allyl chloride. That release forced more than 200 families from their homes and 154 people, including police and ambulance personnel, required treatment for chemical exposure. One MFG employee sustained minor chemical burns. The reactor continued to vent toxic vapor for nearly eight hours and the evacuation order lasted more than nine hours.

A report found MFG did not adequately evaluate the potential hazards of making TAC and had not prepared adequate emergency response plans. The EPD fined MFG $26,000 for the chemical release and the environmental damage it caused.

Another runaway reaction on May 21, 2012, created too much pressure in a reactor, ruptured a dome cover and blew a hole in the roof of the facility. Some 40 people working for other companies in the area had to be decontaminated. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the company $77,000 for safety violations after that accident.

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