Michigan neighborhood, schools evacuated in wake of chmeical spill

Published 16 October 2007

About 500 gallons of hydrochloric acid leaked into a containment area at a metal finishing services plant; 3,000 residents, two schools, trailer park evacuated; rain could complicate clean-up efforts

Three thousand residents and two schools are being evacuated this morning in Melvindale, Michigan, after a chemical spill at Reilly Plating Company and potential rain could make the situation even worse, officials said. Officials said the leak happened at the Reilly Plating Company located on Clarann Street in Melvindale. Police have evacuated 3,000 residents who live or work in the area of Oakwood and Dix roads, including a small trailer park. Allendale Elementary and Strong Junior High students are being relocated to the Melvindale Ice Arena and Baker College. School officials said they are in crisis mode. There are no injuries reported.

Officials said 500 gallons of hydrochloric acid leaked into a containment area at the plant. There is concern about the rain in the forecast. If the acid gets into the rain water, it could be more hazardous. There is also concern that when the acid mixes with the rain, a larger vapor cloud could form. Officials said cleanup could take up to six hours. Hydrochloric acid is the major component of gastric acid and is highly corrosive. Both the mist and the solution could have a corrosive effect on human tissue, potentially damaging respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines. Reilly Plating provides metal finishing services to the automotive and general industries. It specializes in barrel zinc and zinc/alloy electroplating, mechanical plating, phosphating, and painting.