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Nitric acid container leaks at Phoenix Color

January 30, 1997

A container of leaking nitric acid caused officials to delay a shift change Thursday evening at Phoenix Color Corp.'s plant off Western Maryland Parkway west of Hagerstown.

A private contractor for Phoenix had placed a metal 55-gallon container that was leaking nitric acid inside a larger plastic barrel earlier in the day, said Capt. Randy Myers of the Hagerstown Fire Department.

Shortly before 7 p.m., the nitric acid reacted with the larger barrel, burning a small hole through the plastic barrel, Myers said.

No one was injured, he said.

Workers arriving for the evening shift were allowed into the plant after the barrel had been removed and the building had been ventilated, Myers said.

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Ron Burk, vice president of operations for the company, which makes book covers, said a contractor delivered a drum of nitric acid. He said Phoenix officials immediately knew something was wrong, but workers from the other firm assured them there was no problem.

Burk said the drum began to smell, so it was removed from the building and fire officials called.

Phoenix uses the acid to etch metal in order to make a copper stamping dye, Burk said. He said the acid can burn on contact and the fumes can be dangerous.

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