At Least 11 Treated At Hospital After Chemical Leak At REC Plant - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

At Least 11 Treated At Hospital After Chemical Leak At REC Plant In Moses Lake

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Photo of backed up traffic in the Moses Lake area, photo sent to pix@khq.com from a nameless KHQ viewer Photo of backed up traffic in the Moses Lake area, photo sent to pix@khq.com from a nameless KHQ viewer
Here's a still image of the explosion Here's a still image of the explosion

MOSES LAKE, Wash. - At least 11 people were treated at Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake after a chemical release at the REC Silicon plant Friday morning. As of Friday afternoon, three were still being treated but were expected to be discharged.  

It happened shortly after 7 a.m. Friday. WSDOT cameras showed a large plume rising from the plant. 

REC officials told KHQ's Kelsey Watts at the scene that the chemicals released were silicon tetrachloride (STC) and trichlorosilane (TCS). The chemical cloud dissipated at it moved south-southeast, but several roads in the area, including I-90, were closed for a time as a precaution. 

Residents in the area were also advised to stay indoors with doors and window closed, and outside ventilation shut off, but the shelter order was lifted two hours later.  If you live in Moses Lake, or nearby, and want to contact REC for more information, please call 509-793-9000.            

UPDATED PRESS RELEASE FROM REC SILICON FACILITY: REC Silicon has responded to a report of an incident at its Moses Lake, Wash. facility.

An emergency alarm activated Friday at 7:05 a.m. at the facility. Local emergency services were notified and responded. A visible chemical cloud formed and drifted from the facility to the south. Roads surrounding the plant were closed as a precaution and have since re-opened.

One REC Silicon employee reported to the facility onsite dispensary for first-aid treatment and was released. Community members who believe they were affected by the incident are urged to call their doctor or otherwise seek medical attention.

Jeff Johnson, Director of Operations for the Moses Lake facility, said, "We regret this incident and its impacts on the community. We're aware of eleven people who have already sought medical attention and have since been released. We urge anyone who believes they have been affected to seek medical care."

The vapor cloud was a result of a chemical hose losing containment during cleanup, releasing Silicon Tetrachloride (STC) /Trichlorosilane (TCS). REC personnel monitored the cloud and detected no ground-level concentrations of chemicals from the release. The cloud has since dissipated. The facility all-clear siren has been sounded.

TCS/STC (trichlorosilane / silane tetrachloride) reacts with atmospheric moisture to form silicon dioxide and hydrochloric acid. They can be an irritant to the mucous membranes in the nose and throat. A full investigation will be conducted.

About REC

REC is a leading vertically integrated solar energy company. REC produces polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules for the solar industry, and silicon materials for the electronic industry. REC also engages in project development in selected PV segments. Founded in Norway in 1996,

REC employs around 3,200 people globally with revenues of more than EUR 1.7 billion in 2011, approximately USD 2.4 billion. Please visit www.recgroup.com to learn more about REC

UPDATED PRESS RELEASE FROM GRANT COUNTY: All is clear regarding the vapor cloud release Friday morning at REC Silicon in Moses Lake. The emergency response activities have finished. Citizens and motorists can resume normal activity.

REC has identified the chemical and believes the risk to the public is low. However  if people believe they were affected by the vapor cloud, a basic protective measure is to wash up by taking a shower and changing clothes.

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UPDATE: There was a vapor cloud released from REC Silicon plant on Wheeler Rd. in Moses Lake about 7 a.m on Friday. REC now says the situation is under control and they are tracking the vapor cloud. There were no evacuations, but we directed people to Shelter in Place. That order is now stopped.

Per recommendation from REC, all roads have been reopened. There were road closures including I-90, but all roads have been reopened. State Emergency Management was advised and is monitoring the situation.

PREVIOUS STORY:

MOSES LAKE, Wash. - A chemical leak has prompted Grant County authorities to close roads around the REC Silicon Inc. plant in Moses Lake.
    
Kyle Foreman of the Grant County Sheriff's Office says people who work near the plant have been told to stay inside and close doors and windows.
    
Foreman says they believe they have the situation under control, and there have been no reports of injuries.
    
A plume of chemicals escaped from the plant Friday morning and moved south toward Interstate 90. Foreman says the contents of that plume are not immediately known. But it prompted officials to close all local roads around the REC plant and order people at neighboring businesses to stay indoors. Interstate 90 remains open.

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