We are all used to seeing propane tanks as we drive around, usually at gas stations and industrial sites. But there are tanks all around us that are filled with even more dangerous chemicals -- gasses which can kill when released.
This was the case yesterday in Gulfport Louisiana, when a car went off the road and crashed into a building. Just another vehicle-into-building crash? Just another preventable storefront crash? Well yes, in some ways -- but VERY DIFFERENT in one crucial way -- the car struck a building that contained a tank filled with 150 gallons of deadly chlorine gas, and the tank started leaking on impact!
Here is GREAT COVERAGE from Robin Fitzgerald and John Fitzhugh of the Sun Herald -- the story copy and the photos do a great job of highlighting the danger of this accident. Full story and the gallery of photos reprinted below -- this is so important a story I did not want to edit it in any way. Great job of journalism, Robin and John!
Car crashes into chlorine tank; 6 transported to hospitals
By ROBIN FITZGERALD
March 2, 2015 Updated 11 hours ago
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD
GULFPORT -- Police closed Lorraine Road in Gulfport for a little more than two hours Monday after a car on Seaway Road crossed Lorraine Road and struck a building, causing a chlorine leak and a public-safety threat.
The crash about 10:40 a.m. created a chlorine cloud that caused apparent respiratory problems for at least six people, including the driver.
The man, whose name has not been released, was eastbound on Seaway when his car crossed Lorraine and struck a small building adjacent to the Gulf Coast Radio Group building, Police Sgt Damon McDaniel said. Chlorine, stored in the smaller building, created a visible cloud with a strong odor as the cloud later spread to the north and northwest and dissipated.
"At least one 150-pound cylinder of chlorine (in the small building) was punctured," Fire Chief Mike Beyerstedt said.
Six people, including the driver, were taken to area hospitals to be treated for exposure to chlorine, Beyerstedt said. Others taken for treatment were two children who were in an employee's vehicle and members of American Medical Response, who were first on the scene.
"The driver was in serious condition," he said, but the others did not appear to have life-threatening injuries.
The driver and three others were taken to Garden Park Medical Center. The two ambulance workers were taken to Memorial Hospital at Gulfport. Beyerstedt said the ambulance crew was treated and released. Conditions were not available for the others Monday night.
"We don't know if the driver was impaired, the extent of injuries or if the injuries were caused by inhalation," McDaniel said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. McDaniel said no charges have been filed.
The building that was struck is used by the Harrison County Development Commission and it controls the water distributed to buildings in that area, McDaniel said.
"It uses chlorine to disinfect the water. The car apparently hit a valve to the chlorine."
Police and fire officials warned the public to stay away from the area while crews cleaned up.
"We want the public to avoid Lorraine Road at all costs," McDaniel said earlier Monday.
The fire chief said the crash damaged a valve inside the building.
"We were able to turn the gas off at different places to stop the leak," Beyerstedt. "First, we had to have the right protective gear on. Chlorine is lethal."
First-responders evacuated the two buildings just south of Interstate 10 and shut down roads leading to the area, including Lorraine to Wilkes Bridge and Seaway to Three Rivers Road.
Road closures quickly backed up traffic, especially at Seaway and Three Rivers, which was used as an evacuation route. Roads re-opened about 1 p.m.
John Fitzhugh, photojournalist, contributed to this report.