An inadvertent release of a chemical irritant at a Crisp County chemical manufacturer is behind a pungent odor that wafted through several counties early Wednesday morning.
Crisp County Fire Units responded to Drexel Chemical Company around 2:00 a.m. after an incident involving an industrial strength solvent triggered a release of "Dimethoate Technical" fumes into the air.
GEMA reps have been notified as well as local hospitals.
The odor or chemical could cause some issues for people with respiratory problems, but it is not a hazardous material. Four people did go to area hospitals complaining about the odor.
WALB Meteorologist Chris Zelman had this to say about the spread of the odor: "The weather helped exacerbate the chemical smell this morning. The winds were blowing 5-10 mph out of the northeast. This sent the smell down wind from Cordele."
"Leesburg, Albany, Blakely all have reported the smell. The other factor is the inversion. This is when cool air is trapped under a warmer layer of air. It does not allow the air to mix vertically and therefore traps the smell at the surface. The fog and low clouds is good example of the inversion. The inversion should break by mid day allowing the smell to subside."
WALB has reports of the odor from Calhoun Co., Taylor Co., Clay Co., Dawson, and Fitzgerald, and even Eufaula, Alabama.
The Dothan/Houston County EMA issued this public announcement-
The Dothan/Houston County EMA in conjunction with The Alabama Department of Public Health, Henry County EMA, Pike County EMA, Barbour County EMA, Coffee County EMA and Dale County EMA issues the following information:
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 09, 2013, there was an insecticide spill in Cordele, Georgia. There is no danger to anyone in this area.
The public could smell a "skunky" like odor. If you have a respiratory condition, please remain indoors. If your respiratory conditions worsen seek medical attention.
If you have any questions, please call the Alabama Department of Public Health at (334) 693-9716 or your local EMA office.
Crisp County Deputy Robert Rodgers Filed this report
Upon arrival Patterson went to the second complaint (Ferrell Henry) at 106 Cedar Lake Circle and I responded to the first complaint (Tom Curles) at 211 Cedar Lake Circle. Both complainants complained of a strong chemical smell.
The smell was strong enough to take your breath. During this time frame we had complaints from Linda Slade at 16 Pearl Street 229-273-5395, 203 Cedar Lake Circle, 169 Hannah Road and 502 8th Street. EMS was dispatched out to some of the complainants residences.
I had dispatch check with the railroad to see if they had any type of chemical spill which they did not. Deputy Patterson suggested that it may be coming from Drexel Chemical companies. I ask dispatch to make contact with the key holder at Drexel Chemical to see if they may have any chemical spills. Deputy Patterson responded to 166 Pearl Street with EMS and I went to Drexel Chemical company at 120 Cape Road. Upon my arrival I advised that the smell was very strong at the gate of Drexel and that the smell was coming from that location. Crisp County Fire Department arrived along with Col. Hancock and Lt. Busch and we waited on the key holder to arrive.
Upon the arrival of Craig Shiver (Asst. Plant Manager) I ask Craig if the smell was something they had onsite, Craig stated that it smelled like something that they had in the bath. I advised Craig that we would be escorting him inside the gate to make sure. Inside the gated area we found about 12 55 gallon drums that had exploded and chemicals had drained all over the ground. The drums were marked INSECTICIDE.
Craig stated that the chemical was insecticide which is non-toxic. Craig stated that they have to heat the chemical in a bath which is a tub with water in it. Craig stated that one side of the bath shorted out and over heated the chemical. Approximately 12 drums had exploded on one side of the bath and approximately 12 more drums were on the other side of the bath.
Craig stated that he had turned the bath off. Craig supplied a MSDS sheet to Col. Hancock and then started cleaning up the spill. Col. Hancock took the MSDS sheet to the emergency room due to a few people going to the E.R. for treatment. At around 01:52:09 I turned on my camera system and caught drums exploding on the other side of the bath.
I spoke with Greg Haley who is the plant manager and he stated that they have never had this happen before and that the barrels over heated. please see further on video.
The MSDS sheet stated treatment for inhalation is to: REMOVE VICTIM TO FRESH AIR. IF BREATHING HAS STOPPED START ARTIFICiAL RESPIRATION IMMEDIATELY AND MAINTAIN UTIL DOCTORS SEES VICTIM.
The MSDS sheet states that the trade name of the chemical is DIMETHOATE TECHNICAL. The chemical name is O, O-dimethyl S-(N-methylcarbarbamoyl) methyl phoshorodithioate The chemical family is Organophosphate insecticide. EPA REG NO. 19713-209 Signal word: WARNING.