Gaseous chlorine leaks in Clifton
A water treatment operator with the Clifton Water District was taken to a health care facility as a precautionary measure Friday after about 19 pounds of gaseous chlorine was released into the air during routine procedures at the water treatment plant, 510 34 Road.
The employee was wearing protective gear during the incident and is not believed to be injured, said Clifton Water District manager Dale Tooker.
No additional chlorine was released into the water system; it dissipated into the air, he said.
Tooker said alarms went off at the facility during the release, but workers are investigating why chlorine scrubbers didn’t appear to work during the incident.
The agency used the accident as a training opportunity, evacuated the premises and called in Clifton Fire Protection District and Grand Junction’s Hazardous Materials team, as a drill.
“We take these kinds of things extremely seriously,” Tooker said.
He said the district was receiving a standard 1-ton delivery of gaseous chlorine when the incident occurred.
An empty cylinder in the process of being replaced had a remaining 63 pounds of chlorine, and 19 pounds of that escaped from the tank.
The water district puts about 60 to 100 pounds of chlorine into a million gallons of water. The district serves about 38,000 customers.
Tooker said the district has a policy of notifying customers and following a risk management plan after a threshold of 100 extra pounds of chlorine have been released.
The Environmental Protection Agency requires notification if more than 10 pounds of gaseous chlorine are released. Tooker said the district attempted to notify the EPA, but the agency is closed because of the federal government shutdown.
The water district will notify the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, he said.
In his 35 years with the district, Tooker said he can’t remember a similar scenario when gaseous chlorine accidentally had been released.
“We’re just happy that it looks like our employee hasn’t been really affected,” Tooker said.