Quick response: Workers avert haz-mat issue in Belleville

News-DemocratMarch 28, 2014 

The Belleville Fire Department and the St. Clair County Special Emergency Service Agency Hazardous Materials Team were called to ROHO, Inc. on Thursday afternoon after chemicals were inadvertently mixed.

According to the fire department, at just before 2 p.m., about 160 pounds of muriatic acid and 80 pounds of caustic soda were combined, creating a potentially dangerous situation. When mixed, the chemicals create a reaction that produces heat and a salt-like residue.

By the time emergency crews arrived, employees had already taken action to cool the drum in which the chemicals were mixed and to surround it with absorbent material to make sure the solution was contained, according to Haz-Mat team deputy chief Brian Donley.

According to fire department interim chief Tom Pour, if the chemicals were to have been released, traffic in the area would have had to be diverted and residents of area neighborhoods would have been told to stay in their houses until the all clear signal was given.

Muriatic acid has many uses including processing leather, steel production and household cleaning. Caustic soda is used in the manufacture of paper, textiles and soap, and is also used as a drain cleaner.

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