UPDATE: Hydrochloric acid continues to leak at Wacker Chemie; no threat to public
Hydrochloric acid continues to leak at the Wacker Chemie facility in Bradley County more than a week later.
UPDATE: Hydrochloric acid continues to leak at the Wacker Chemie facility in Bradley County more than a week later.
Bradley County's EMA Director, Troy Spence, tells us that the leak is coming from the broken pipes from the explosion.
There's an estimated six tons of chemicals located in a part of plant that was structurally unsafe.
Crews stabilized it today.
Wacker employees are working to move those chemicals to a holding tank.
Spence says there's not enough leaking to leave the facility.
PREVIOUS STORY: For the third time in two weeks, emergency shelters were activated inside the Wacker Plant in Charleston. On Tuesday, crews discovered an elevated level of chemicals left over from last week's explosion in the plant. Last week,an explosion at Wacker sent 12 people to the hospital. In August, five employees were transported for observations due to a gas leak.
Wacker employees said the community and its employees were never in any danger, but people living nearby the play said they are terrified.
Around lunch time you could hear sirens blaring on the Wacker property. People who live nearby are on edge after hearing these sirens twice in one week, they want a clear community emergency plan.
BRADLEY COUNTY EMERGENCY ALERTS | HOW TO SIGN UP
"Yea, I am scared of that place," said Dewey Hughes. He has lived in Charleston his entire life. His back yard used to be open fields, but now all he sees from his back porch is the Wacker Plant. "Probably a mile. Not over a mile from my house. Probably straight to it, it is a quarter of a mile," said Hughes.
He was home last week when the chemical explosion happened. He said it felt like dynamite went off nearby. He showed us where the explosion damaged his property. "It is right here. Cracked this all the way across and cracked those blocks over there."
Video sent to the Channel 3 newsroom gives you a glimpse into how Wacker's alert system was used Tuesday to order employees to shelter in place. Hughes was left to wonder what was happening in his backyard. "We need to talk to somebody over there. Somebody with some control. Let us know when something bad is happening over there. So we can get out of here, quick before it us up on us."
A Wacker spokesperson said the community was never at any risk and no chemicals were released. Crews were inside the plant working to fix a problem caused by last week's explosion when left over chemicals activated the alarms. Employees were asked to shelter in place as a precautionary measure. But to the neighbors living close by, more precautionary measures are needed. "All of us around here are concerned. Very concerned caused it is an ongoing thing right now. We had one the week before, then last week, now they got one this week. Three weeks in a row, something needs to be done."
Neighbors tell Channel 3 they plan to hold neighborhood meetings and discuss what to do in case of an emergency.
County officials said their county alert system can help in a serious situation. It was no activated Tuesday but it was used last week. They are urging residents to sign up.
PREVIOUS STORY: Channel 3 received reports of alarms are going off at Wacker Chemie plant in Charleston.
You'll remember, just last week, the plant had its second chemical leak within two weeks.
READ MORE | Five Wacker workers hurt in chemical exposure
Wacker released this statement in reference to the alarms going off:
This (Tuesday) morning we detected a slight elevation of residual chemicals stemming from the September 7 incident at the WACKER site in Charleston, Tennessee.
According to emergency protocol and precautionary measures, WACKER issued an onsite shelter in place, which has been lifted. There was no risk to the community or employees.
Safety is our top priority along with the care and well-being of our employees and our community. Our commitment to safety remains our primary focus.
Bradley County EMA Director, Troy Spence tells Channel 3 that they are assessing the damage from broken pipes and that is where the residual chemicals came from. The workers are going through the pipes manually, causing the alarms to set off. The chemicals are locked up and there is not danger to the area.
Bradley County Schools released this statement regarding the Wacker alarms:
While working on damaged pipes with chemical residue, alarms were set off at the Wacker plant this morning. Their employees are sheltering in place as a precaution. There is no threat to our schools or the community. Bradley County Safety Director and the Director of EMA have been in contact with representatives from Wacker. We will keep you posted.