Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chemical Spill Evacuates Port of Olympia

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Olympia was temporarily evacuated the morning of Jan. 27 after a hydrogen peroxide spill occurred at a new stormwater treatment plant that just opened at the port in December. The leak is believed to have originated from a pipe entering a 3,300-gallon tank.

Hydrogen peroxide, which is used to bring the pH factor in stormwater to normal, entered storm drains in and around the port and caused a vapor to rise from the drains and a building, according to the state Department of Ecology.

This led to the Olympia Fire Department calling for evacuations within a quarter mile as a precaution. The port and a few nearby businesses were evacuated for about three hours and another six-to-eight businesses within 20 city blocks were sheltered in place during the incident.

No injuries were reported.

Hydrogen peroxide is a weak acid that’s potentially explosive and not suitable for ingestion in high concentrations due to the potential for causing irritation to the mucus membrane, eyes and skin. In low concentrations, however, it’s commonly used for medical purposes.