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SABIC has second spill in two weeks

By Eason Franklin
The Lowndes Signal

A Lowndes County plastic manufacturing company has seen its second hazardous chemical spill in two weeks.

SABIC Innovative Plastics, located on Highway 80 near Burkville recently had an above-ground spill of what is said to be 650 gallons of Methylene Chloride on July 2.

Methylene Chloride is primarily used as a solvent in paint removers and strippers, a metal cleaning and finishing solvent in electronics manufacturing and as a propellant in aerosol products.

The chemical is highly toxic to humans and can effect the central nervous system and irritate the nose and throat and at high concentrations, can even be fatal, according the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website.

Some of the chemical is being directed to the water treatment plant, according to EMA Director Walter Hill.

“Some of the equipment around the spill has been shut down and crews are working to drum-up the chemical,” said Hill.

SABIC experienced an underground chemical spill on June 24 when an underground pipe carrying a low-strength caustic solution used when adjusting PH levels failed, according to Site Communications Leader Shelia Naab.

“Most of the liquid solution from the failed pipe was captured by a nearby process drain that leads to our waste treatment facility,” said Naab.

The liquid was identified as Sodium Hydroxide which is used as a chemical base in SABIC’s manufacturing process.

SABIC contacted the National Response Center, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Lowndes County Local Emergency Planning Committee after the pipe was secured, according to reports.

The foundation of the plant consists of eight feet of compacted clay and is capable of forming a protective barrier to prevent liquid from seeping into the soil, according to Naab.

Naab said SABIC is working to “break up the concrete surface layer” above the spill and to “excavate the clay that was contaminated.”

“We will dispose of it at an off-side ADEM approved landfill and replace the clay foundation to its original state,” said Naab. “We expect the work to be completed next month.”

The Lowndes Signal will update the story as the situation develops.