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Corrosive liquid leaks from tank

August 17, 2000

Corrosive liquid leaks from tank



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


Between 1,200 and 1,300 gallons of a corrosive liquid leaked from an outside tank at Washington County Hospital early Thursday, flowing through a rear parking lot and into Hagerstown's storm drains and then into the Antietam Creek.

"We got permission from the Maryland Department of the Environment to flush the parking lot with as much water as possible," said Capt. Kyd Dieterich of the Hagerstown Fire Department.

Despite that effort, the caustic chemical had permeated the blacktop, forcing the hospital to cordon off the area until it could be "power washed" later in the day, according to Randy Sharshan, director of hospital facilities engineering.

There would be no effect on Hagerstown drinking water, according to Dave Shindle, engineer with the Hagerstown Water Department.

"We get our water from the Potomac River, upstream from any streams in the Hagerstown area," Shindle said.

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At 4:28 a.m., a hospital security guard discovered the leak and called for help.

The clear liquid solution of sodium hydroxide was being transferred from a larger tank into a smaller tank when the line ruptured, according to hospital spokeswoman Maureen Theriault.

Theriault described the incident as a mechanical failure.

"Sodium hydroxide is used to take impurities out of the air when we burn medical wastes in the incinerator," Sharshan said.

Sharshan said his department is working with the hazardous materials specialists who were at the scene.

"All agencies have been notified," Sharshan said.

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