Emergency crews respond to Michigan chemical plant incident

March 17, 2014

A chemical reaction at a manufacturing facility in Grand Rapids, Mich., on March 13 caused an evacuation of the surrounding area.

A chemical reaction at a manufacturing facility in Grand Rapids, Mich., on March 13 caused an evacuation of the surrounding area, but was quickly contained and the situation was put under control without any injuries or damage caused, local media reported.

The reaction happened at the Haviland Enterprises plant, where the company manufactures an oxidizing agent used for swimming pools. According to Arthur Harre III, chief sales officer for the company, the problem occurred at around 9:30am when two dry chemicals were mixed and reacted unexpectedly, sending a vapor plume into the air. He told reporters that the company had been manufacturing the product for five years and the batch that caused the incident was the fourth of the day.

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Firefighters, police officers and hazmat teams responded to the incident. The town's acting deputy chief Kevin Sehlmeyer explained that a sprinkler had gone off after the reaction, as it was triggered by the heat, but there was no risk of water contamination since the Haviland facility was equipped to contain such water and it was unlikely that the contamination could leave the building.

According to Michigan news service MLive, this is not the first time Haviland has been involved in such an accident. In 2002 there was a serious acid spill at the plant, injuring 15 people. That incident resulted in a $5,750 fine imposed by Michigan Occupational Safety and Health for violations at the facility.

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