Salisbury officials introduced new COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.
Salisbury Daily Times
SALISBURY, Md.— A Salisbury water operator came across a hazardous chemical leak as he carried out his typical shift Thursday, according to a recent press release from the city.
At Salisbury’s Paleo Water Treatment Plant, the operator discovered a gaseous chlorine leak after entering the chlorine cylinder room to swap out an empty.
He immediately notified his superintendent, according to the city, who contacted Salisbury Fire Department. The exposed employee was then sent to TidalHealth Peninsula Regional for evaluation.
He received oxygen and has already been released in stable condition, according to the release.
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Salisbury and Delmar Fire Departments responded to contain the chlorine leak. Two members of the hazmat response team capped off the 150-pound cylinder of gaseous chlorine with a leak containment kit, according to the release. The cylinder, now safely secured, will be transported back to its distributor.
The city says the plant has been cleared to return to normal operations.
“I am so proud of the Water Works team for quickly acting when they realized there was a chlorine leak at our Water Plant. All protocols were followed and no one was hurt,” said Acting Mayor Julia Glanz in a statement. “Additionally we couldn’t have returned to normal operations without the support of our Salisbury Fire Department Hazmat Team. Thank you SFD and Delmar Fire Department for making sure this leak was contained and no one was injured.”
Salisbury’s Department of Water Works uses gaseous chlorine to disinfect the water as part of the treatment process in “controlled and diluted amounts.”
Gaseous chlorine is poisonous and classified as a pulmonary irritant, according to the release.
It has intermediate water solubility with the capability of causing acute damage to the upper and lower respiratory tract — giving it potential to be very hazardous.
The Paleo Water Treatment Plant is equipped with a large chlorine scrubber that automatically detects and neutralizes chlorine gas in the air as soon as it is leaked, like what occurred an incident such as this, accord to the city.
The chlorine scrubber functioned properly in this case — scrubbing the entire chlorine room of the gas as it continued to leak from the cylinder. But, because the leak was so slow, the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution” to remove the cylinder altogether.
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