Garland Chemical Plant Mistake Raises Concerns

Vapor develops after chemical put in wrong container with another chemical

By Tammy Mutasa
|  Tuesday, May 14, 2013  |  Updated 7:53 AM CDT
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A Garland chemical company is investigating an apparent mistake that forced evacuations and sent three Garland firefighters to the hospital.

Tammy Mutasa, NBC 5 Garland Reporter

A Garland chemical company is investigating an apparent mistake that forced evacuations and sent three Garland firefighters to the hospital.

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Some Garland residents say they are concerned about a nearby chemical company after a strong chemical vapor wafted from the facility over the weekend, forcing evacuations and sending three firefighters to a hospital.

The vapor occurred Saturday night at Mapei Corp., which produces adhesives and sealants for building, in the 1500 block of Wall Street near Garland Road.

"It just really shines light to the fact that we don't really know what's being kept so close to home," said Clint Paschall, who lives less than a mile away from the facility.

He said he and his family could smell the vapor.

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"Not really knowing what exactly what is being kept in the plant, you know, being so close to my home, that, that can be very concerning," Paschall said.

Firefighters said the vapor developed after workers who were cleaning up Epoxy, a flooring adhesive, put it into the wrong disposable container with another chemical.

"The absorbent was placed in a container that should not have been placed with the other chemicals. And when they did, it created a chemical, thermal reaction which created a strong odor," said Merrill Balanciere with the Garland Fire Department. "What the employee did was, once the vapor kind of started, he kind of moved it towards the door to the fresh air, and that's when it got out to the surrounding area."

The wind blew the vapor toward a Conoco station, a McDonald's restaurant and Iron Wok Express Restaurant along nearby Garland Road. Balanciere said the businesses were immediately closed as a precaution, and about two dozen people in the area were evacuated.

Three firefighters taken to a hospital because of exposure to the vapor.

"They were immediately exposed after they got off the engine and, at that point, they told everyone else to back up, set up a perimeter and ... we just sent them to the hospital just in case there was something," Balanciere said.

"At least the safety procedures where put in place," Paschall said. "It's also nice to know we have quick responders."

Mapei's owners told the fire department that there was no chance of an explosion.

The company did not return requests for comment.

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