UPDATE: Chlorine Dioxide Gas Leak At Perry Paper Plant

By Julie Montanaro
June 5, 2014

We have new details tonight on that chlorine gas leak that shut down the Buckeye Plant in Perry.

Employees last week described a big green cloud and the folks at Buckeye now say 15 pounds of chlorine was accidentally released into the air.

A plant spokesman says an electrical outage early that morning shut down automated computer controls at the mill's chlorine dioxide generating plant.

Spokesman Scott Mixon says the mill and its owner, Georgia Pacific, are investigating the equipment and adding new safeguards to try to make sure it doesn't happen again.

No one was hurt and the plant is now back to full operation.

By Julie Montanaro
May 28, 2014

A chlorine dioxide gas leak forces evacuations at the Buckeye Mill in Taylor County.

No one was hurt, but an employee told us it looked like a big green cloud headed toward Perry.

It's not clear yet how much chlorine dioxide leaked into the air.

Florida's Department of Environmental Protection called it a "smoke plume." One woman leaving the mill described it as "a big green cloud."

It happened at the Buckeye Mill in Perry at about 8:45 Wednesday morning and employees on the ground were the first to see it five stories above their heads.

"It was an accidental release. The employees that were involved, about 5 to 6 employees, were evacuated immediately and employees responded immediately to stop the release, stop the leak," said Scott Mixon, Public Affairs Manager for what will soon be re-named the Foley Cellulose Mill.

Mixon says the leak happened near the east gate where the mill washes and purifies pine pulp. The mill estimates the "release" lasted for about an hour.

"It can cause irritation to the eyes," Mixon said. "It can cause irritation to the throat, and it can cause irritation to the lungs."

"But as far as you know, none of your employees experienced those symptoms?"

"We had no injuries," Mixon said.

The leak was contained and Buckeye officials say an all clear was sounded for employees to return to work at 11:08 a.m.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Tiffany Cowie says the chlorine dioxide dissipated quickly into the air and there was no known impact. Cowie says there was no release of chemicals into the ground or the water.

A former mill worker says anytime there is a release of toxic chemicals he worries about the impact on employees there.

"It's a scary thing," Griff Hendry said. "Those men are good men, everyone of them, 'cause I worked with most of them, and they'll do anything for you and they should be protected."

Officials at Buckeye say they are still investigating what caused the leak.

"We don't know how much gas was released yet. We're investigating as to the cause, we're investigating as to the amount of gas that was released, and as soon as we know those details we'll release them as soon as we can," Mixon said.

DEP Spokeswoman Tiffany Cowie blamed the leak on a power outage at 3 a.m. that she said "set off a series of events and equipment failures."

An OSHA spokesman says OSHA is "aware of the incident and will handle it according to our policies."

Mixon confirms that there was another accidental release of chlorine dioxide last week on May 22nd. He says that release was due to a gasket leak in a pipe. He says no one was hurt that day and the problem was fixed.

By: Julie Montanaro
May 28, 2014 - 11:30am

Perry, FL - A spokesman for the Buckeye plant in Perry says there was an accidental release of chlorine dioxide at the plant this morning at 8:45am.

The release was stopped and an all clear was sounded at 11:08am. There are no reported injuries.

We have a crew on the scene and will bring you more information as it becomes available.

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