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Nitric acid released inside Institute refinery

By From staff reports

An estimated 950 pounds of nitric acid was released inside Catalyst Refiners in Institute on Tuesday, and Kanawha County officials are troubled that the incident was not properly reported to emergency officials.

At approximately, 12:30 p.m., Kanawha County Emergency Management was notified that an incident was occurring at the plant, a division of Ames Goldsmith Corp. that refines ethylene oxide catalyst.

County Manager Jennifer Sayre said in a news release that emergency management officials responded to the scene after receiving the call at about 1 p.m. from a neighboring facility.

Catalyst Refiners has failed to notify the public of the situation and has only stated that there is no harm to the community.

Sayre said the nitric acid release happened within the confines of the Catalyst building. The vapor spread through the facility, which was evacuated, and outside on Catalyst property.

Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said workers at Bayer CropScience, located next door, noticed the white vapor headed their way as the wind changed direction and also decided to evacuate as a precaution.

Carper said he spoke to the plant manager at Catalyst, who said he didn't report the incident to county officials right away because he was so busy responding to the incident.

"It was a significant leak that should have been reported to the public, certainly to emergency responders," Carper said.

Sayre said in the news release that emergency officials remain on the scene of the incident and are continuing to evaluate the situation. 

Officials have been told the chemicals involved were hydrogen peroxide and nitric acid. At this time, Catalyst Refiners have estimated, the release was approximately 950 pounds of nitric acid. 


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