Chemical Spill At Dow Corning Plant Disrupts Highway, Water And Rail Traffic

By Justin Wilfon

(CARROLLTON, Ky., July 22nd, 2004, 5 p.m.) -- There were some tense moments in Carrollton Thursday morning after a chemical spill at the Dow Corning plant. WAVE 3's Justin Wilfon reports.

The leak forced officials to temporarily close highway 42, and halt traffic on the Ohio River.
Residents also received an unexpected wake-up call. "There was an alert from Dow Corning and they had a chemical spill," said Carrollton resident Larry Morgan.

Morgan lives just about a mile from the plant, and was one of a thousand nearby residents who received the warning. "We were advised to stay indoors ... and to put something around our doors ... and to wait for the notice and to also turn off the air conditioning."

Dow Corning officials say the leak was caused by an equipment failure. The malfunction sent a cloud of the chemical, chlorosilane, into the air. It then mixed with moisture and became hydrocloric acid.

Dow Corning executive Jim Hicks says the company followed procedure. "We instituted our emergency response plan ... and immediately notified the Carroll County dispatch."

Officials aren't sure how far the cloud of fumes traveled.

"From the modeling we did of the incident, there were some concentrations that could have been at a level where we could have had some injury or irritation from that," Hicks said.

But officials received no reports of problems, due in large part to the quick work of clean-up crews at the plant. "The leak is contained," Hicks said.

Two Dow Corning employees who were directly exposed to the chemical were taken to a hospital where they were treated and released.

For residents who live near the chemical plant, the leak was scary, but nothing new.

Said Morgan: "We've had these type of spills before, so we're kind of used to it by now."

Online Reporter: Justin Wilfon

Online Producer: Michael Dever