Dave Mistich Published

Update: DEP Investigating Mason County Chemical Leak

mason county

Updated: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 4:35 p.m.

State environmental officials say a failed gasket could have been the cause of a chemical release at the ICL Chemical Plant in Mason County Wednesday afternoon. 

In a written statement, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Kelley Gillenwater said the white phosphorous was in an iso-tank that is heated before the material is transferred from one container to another. 

Gillenwater said heating the tank increases the pressure, therefore, if a gasket failed or there were other structural issues, a leak could occur.

State officials have asked the company to provide information about the size of the tank itself and the amount of phosphorous that leaked, but have not yet received the information. DEP inspectors are expected to be on site Thursday.

An automatic sprinkler system within the plant reportedly dampened both the fire and the phosphorous cloud, keeping the material from reacting with surrounding oxygen.

Updated: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 1:31 p.m.

A shelter-in-place has been lifted for a two-mile radius surrounding Gallopolis Ferry in Mason County after a reported chemical release Wednesday afternoon.

Mason County emergency management officials said the shelter-in-place was in effect from 12:14 p.m. to 1:01 p.m. Wednesday after a reported fire at the ICL Chemical Plant on Route 2 just south of Point Pleasant.

An incident report provided by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says a phosphorous fire caused a cloud to form inside the facility. Emergency management officials say that cloud did spread outdoors, leading to the warning.

Officials said  the plume has dissipated and what’s left of it is “under control” with employees of the ICL plant continuing their response. 

The Point Pleasant Fire Department, the Mason County Emergency Management Services, the Mason County Sheriff’s Department and the West Virginia State Police were dispatched to the facility but have since been released.

According to the company’s website, ICL produces a range of bromine-based products, including flame retardants and drilling fluids. 

County officials say the incident was originally called in as an explosion, but the incident reports says no explosion occurred. The shelter-in-place warning was issued as a precautionary measure.

State Route 2 has been reopened following a closure after the incident.