Hydrochloric acid leak in east Edmonton capped

The hydrochloric acid leak that forced emegency crews to evacuate an industrial area east of Edmonton has been stopped.

"It's no longer leaking. Now what we're going to be doing is cleaning up what is on the ground," said John Lamb, Deputy Fire Chief.

The leak, which happened at Panther Industries, a facility near 121 Ave and 32 St. NE, was first noticed by an employee at 8:40 a.m., according to the company.

“We have a [chemical] storage facility, it happened there,” said Clayton Schneider, assistant manager with the Saskatchewan-based company.

Police and fire crews evacuated nearby businesses and blocked off roads in the area, which is north of Sherwood Park.

No injuries have been reported.

Fire crews say they are still dealing with a cloud of acid that has formed over the spill, but that there isn't a threat to the public.

Hydrochloric acid can burn skin on contact, and can cause lung damage if inhaled.

Lamb says there was initial concern that the acid could leak into the city's drainage system, but that is no longer a problem.

Schneider says the bolts on a viewing window installed on the acid tank may have been too tight. They appear to have sheared off because of the cold weather, causing the leak.

He says the tanks are held in a berm, which seemed to collect most of the acid. Some of it escaped, but Schneider says it all remained on the company's property.

“The reason we have such strict procedures on something like [this] … is so that things are manageable,” he said.

Schneider says it is the largest leak the company has ever dealt with, but praised the actions of employees and emergency workers in containing the spill.

With the leak capped, fire crews expect to spend four to five hours cleaning up the site.

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