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Dangerous chlorine leak detected at Oneida water treatment plant, exceeding limit by five times

A chlorine concentration five times the safe limit forced hazardous materials response teams to the City of Oneida's Harden Street Wastewater Treatment Plant on Friday, July 5.

Shortly after 7:30 a.m., the Syracuse Fire Department's Hazardous Materials Response Team was dispatched to the City of Oneida to assist the City of Oneida Fire Department. Investigators reported that leak detection equipment at the City of Oneida Wastewater Treatment Plant detected a chlorine gas leak in a room within the plant.

Chlorine gas is an extremely dangerous gas that is heavier than air and can cause serious injury or death to people exposed to it in high concentrations.

Working with other responders on scene, HAZMAT members were informed of the situation and developed a plan to enter the room where the leak was located and stop the leak. HAZMAT team members donned fully enclosed chemical protective clothing in the form of Level A suits. These suits represent the highest level of protection used by HAZMAT team members and are reserved for the most dangerous emergencies. Once they donned their protective clothing, team members began air monitoring and worked to determine the severity of the leak.

The initial chlorine concentration in the air in the room where the leak occurred was more than five times the safe limit. Crews were instructed by plant personnel on how to navigate the room's piping and also given instructions on how to stop the leak. Additionally, several contingency plans were discussed to ensure they could get the job done. After more than thirty minutes of work to stop the leak, the leak was secured and crews exited the building.

Thanks to the quick action of plant personnel and the Oneida City Fire Department, the leak was contained to the room where the chlorine tanks were stored. The chemical did not leak outside and there was no danger to the public. No injuries were reported in this incident. After the leak was repaired, special fans in the plant removed any remaining chemicals from the air and the plant was able to resume normal operations.