No One Hurt in Haz Mat Incident

By ANNE HOLLIDAY
WESB/WBRR News Director

Rutherford Run in the vicinity of Baker-Petrolite is still down to one lane of traffic, but no one was hurt and there was very little, if any, environmental damage during a hazardous material spill this morning.

Bradford Township Fire Chief Dan Burkhouse says the building at 40 Rutherford Run will have to be monitored for 24 to 48 hours to make sure the chemical – acrolein – is stabilized.

Burkhouse says the building at 40 Rutherford Run had already been evacuated when firefighters arrived on the scene at around 11 a.m. He says they knew they were "in for a lengthy incident" when they surveyed the situation.

He says the first thing they did was secure the area. Then, because of "the possible severity of the incident," they called other agencies to respond.

McKean County Emergency Management Director Bruce Manning arrived at 11:23 a.m. The Port Allegany Volunteer Fire Department Decontamination Team arrived at 12:10 p.m. The Elk County HazMat teaam arrived at 12:53 p.m.

After learning that a 370-gallon cylinder of acrolein was releasing a toxic vapor, they called the manufacturer in Texas to get information on how to stabilize the chemical. The answer was "continuous water flow for 24 to 48 hours."

Burkhouse says emergency crews turned the building back over to the company at 7:30, and employees will monitor the situation until a specialist from Baker-Petrolite gets there.

Burkhouse says, "During the initial stabilization, the road had to be shut down for 2 ½ hours."

He says they did the best they could to keep the traffic flow going for the ATA, Schlumberger, and area residents but, because it's a dead end road, they couldn't re-route motorists.

He apologizes for any inconvience to businesses and residents but "we did the best we could to make sure they were safe."

He says they were prepared to evacuate as far as 3,000 feet in every direction "but fortunately we didn't have to put that in place."

The organizations that responded were the Bradford Township Volunteer Fire Department, Bradford Township Police, Bradford Township supervisors, Bradford City ambulance, Star Hose Company of Port Allegany, Lewis Run Volunteer Fire Department, McKean County Emergency Management Agency, McKean County Sheriff's Department, Elk County Emergency Management Agency, Cameron County Emergency Management Agency, Elk County HazMat Team the McKean-Potter Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The Corydon Township and Derrick City fire departments were on standby. American Refining Group supplied foam in case of a fire.

"Thank God we didn't need that," Burkhouse said, adding that he appreciates everyone who was involved in the operation.

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