Oct. 17–Three city employees were exposed to chlorine gas and had to be transported to the hospital, but are fine. The leak near two Clinton schools Monday was handled quickly and officials said no drinking water was affected or other injuries reported.
At approximately 10:50 a.m., the Clinton Fire Department responded to a reported chlorine gas leak. The leak occurred at a drinking water well site on West Elizabeth Street, operated by the Clinton Public Works Department.
Reports indicate two City of Clinton Public Works employees were performing maintenance when a component on a chlorine gas cylinder failed, causing the cylinder to discharge. The pump station is located on the joint campus of Clinton High School and Sampson Middle School, adjacent to Dark Horse Stadium.
Two Public Works employees and one Clinton firefighter were exposed to chlorine gas and had to be transported to the Sampson Regional Medical Center. All three were evaluated, treated and released from the hospital.
Response to a chlorine gas leak calls for an initial isolation distance of 330 feet, which was quickly established and maintained, city officials said.
“Conditions on the ground did not dictate the need for a larger area of evacuation,” a city press release stated.
City officials worked closely with Clinton City Schools (CCS) Superintendent Dr. Wesley Johnson, who quickly arrived at the incident command post and remained for the duration of the event, city officials noted.
“Student safety was a paramount concern throughout the event and sheltering in place was determined to be the safest and most viable option,” the release stated.
Johnson, in a call Monday evening to parents and those affiliated with the school system, informed them of the situation and reiterated the safety measures taken.
“When I arrived on the scene, I was greeted by a multidisciplinary team of city and county officials, including police, fire and rescue,” the CCS superintendent said. “Based on guidance from the team on site, it was concluded that an evacuation order was not needed. The individuals needed to stay inside until the area could be deemed safe.”
Officials at Sampson Middle and Clinton High were notified and police closed entrances from West Elizabeth Street and into Dark Horse Stadium.
Clinton Fire Department immediately requested a Hazardous Materials Regional Response Team. Local first responders cleared the area and maintained “a safe perimeter” while the Fayetteville Fire Department’sHazardous Materials Response Team responded to the incident.
“Upon the Hazmat team’s arrival and investigation, it was determined the chlorine had dissipated to safe levels,” the city stated in its release. “The incident did not have any impact on the drinking water supply.”
Johnson said the school continued on its normal operations little more than a couple hours after the leak was reported, and he assured parents in the call that everyone was operating with the utmost precaution.
“It was determined that the area was safe and normal operations at the schools could resume, which occurred around 1:30 p.m.,” said Johnson. “As a parent myself, I know the safety of our children is our number one concern, so I just wanted to alert you of the situation that occurred today near our middle school and high school campuses.”
Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.
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