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Kids evacuated, traffic diverted due to chemical spills

June 14, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Two separate chemical spills around the same time in Hagerstown caused children to be evacuated from a West North Street recreation center and traffic to be diverted around Cannon and Franklin streets Tuesday afternoon.

At 2:30 p.m. firefighters were called to Cannon Avenue and Franklin Street after a five gallon bucket containing muriatic acid fell off a truck and spilled on the road.

Used for industrial cleaning, the solution was believed to be diluted to about half strength, firefighters said.

The substance that spilled on the road started to foam and smoke.

Firefighters opened a fire hydrant and poured water on the area of the spill.

At 3 p.m. a 1/4-inch chlorine line at Memorial Recreation Center became disconnected and spilled the chemical in a pump house near the swimming pool, said Hagerstown Fire Battalion Chief C. Kingsley Poole.

No one was in the water at the time of the spill, he said.

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The recreation center was evacuated while firefighters crimped the line to stop the flow and used fans to dissipate the odor.

Chlorine is a "pungent chemical which can cause respiratory problems," Poole said.

The Hagerstown Fire Department, Washington County Special Operations Team and Community Rescue Service were at the scene.

Firefighters used breathing apparatus and special encapsulated suits during the cleanup process, Poole said.

A pool company representative was called to the recreation center to address the problem, he said.

When released into the air, concentrated forms of chlorine give off a greenish-yellow vapor that can discolor property. Poole said the incident might have caused minimal, if any, damage to the pump house.

No one was injured and rescuers left the scene at 4:45 p.m.

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