MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — A spill at a chemical distribution company prompted a shelter-in-place order in one Muskegon Heights neighborhood for a couple of hours Monday.
The spill happened around 11 a.m. at Webb Chemical Service Corporation on Jarman Street south of E. Sherman Boulevard.
A release on Webb’s website initially estimated the spill involved about 2,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid, which is used in pools and concrete etching, the company later revised that figure to say less than 500 gallons was released.
The Muskegon Heights Fire Department said the leak caused a release of hydrochloric acid vapor into the air. The vapor can irritate the eyes, skin and respiratory tract, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A shelter-in-place order was issued for nearby homes and businesses shortly after the leak. It was lifted around 1 p.m. after firefighters confirmed the leak was contained.
Webb said that no one was hurt. Colin Convertini, the company’s vice president of operations, said the chemical spilled into a containment tank, so there was no ground or water contamination. Firefighters said they sprayed water on the area to reduce the release of the vapors.
“All released liquid will be treated for safe disposal,” Webb said in a statement.
The company said it stores hydrochloric acid for packaging and distribution. Reading from a prepared statement, Convertini told reporters that the company prioritizes safety, but that “there are times when things go wrong, and unfortunately we are experiencing such an event today.”
“As we respond, our goal is to ensure there is no negative effect on the health of anyone or to the environment,” Convertini said. “We will conduct our own investigation to determine exactly what happened, why it happened, and how we can keep this from happening again.”
Webb apologized for any inconvenience caused by the spill and thanked emergency responders and its own workers for how they handled the situation. It promised to cooperate with any forthcoming investigations.
It said some operations were suspended Monday and some were moved to another building. Employees were asked to come to work as scheduled.