Two people complained of respiratory problems after about 200 gallons of titanium tetrachloride leaked Sunday night at a chemical plant in New Jersey chemical plant.
Authorities ordered residents of Edison to shelter-in-place when a leak in a distillation column was discovered at the LyondellBasell facility at about 8-30 p.m., local media report.
“The leak involved a product used as a catalyst for the production of plastic,” a company spokesman told the website NJ.com. “The leak is isolated and contained, and no one was injured as a result of this incident.”
Titanium tetrachloride, used as a catalyst in the production of plastic, can burn skin and permanently damage eyesight. Worse, if titanium tetrachloride contacts water, it quickly forms hydrochloric acid which is corrosive and extremely toxic.
Leak detection equipment at the plant automatically activated fixed protection known as a deluge system, releasing pressurized water as high velocity suppression.
“Unfortunately, the leak resulted in a visible cloud, which has since dissipated,” the LyondellBasell spokesperson reports.
Local fire and emergency personnel joined with the plant’s in-house incident response team to bring the situation under control. The plant was declared safe within 90 minutes of the first alarm.