published Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Person hospitalized after chemical release at Dalton, Ga., plant

One person was hospitalized by a chemical release around 6 a.m. Monday at a plant owned by a Dalton, Ga., chemical manufacturer that’s had accidents over the past decade that sent some 200 people to the hospital.

A worker at MFG Chemical Inc.’s plant on Kimberly Park Drive was taken by ambulance to the Wellstar Cobb Hospital after he put chemicals inside a reactor vessel and a reaction started before he could close it, Dalton police and fire officials said.

“Luckily, the chemical wasn’t that bad, and luckily, the reaction did not last very long,” Dalton Fire Chief Bruce Satterfield said.

Dalton police and firefighters closed Willowdale Road, Kimberly Park Drive and Crow Valley Road, told people to avoid the area, and advised those who lived nearby to stay indoors and “shelter in place” until about 8:30 a.m.

The chemical was not poisonous, but it was an irritant, Dalton police spokesman Bruce Frazier said. The chemical release was limited to the building’s interior, he said.

The odor reached U.S. Highway 41, Frazier said. The company’s website had a three-sentence description of what it described as a “minor chemical release.”

Woody Mader, MFG Chemical’s commercial development manager, on Monday afternoon declined to give the injured employee’s name or condition. He also declined to say what chemicals were released.

“We’re doing an investigation. Until that’s completed, I’m not going to discuss it,” Mader said.

A May 21, 2012, explosion at a reactor at another MFG Chemical plant on Callahan Road resulted in 47 people being treated and released from the hospital that day. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited MFG Chemical for 20 safety violation and proposed $77,000 in fines for that accident.

More than 200 families were forced to evacuate their homes and 154 people had to be decontaminated and treated for chemical exposure at a local hospital after highly toxic allyl alcohol and allyl chloride were released from a reactor at MFG Chemical’s Callahan Road facility on April 12, 2004, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, which published a 123-page report about the release.

Charles E. Gavin IV has been president of MFG Chemical since 2000, according to MFG’s website. He replaced his father, who founded the company in 1979. Gavin responded to questions about Monday’s accident by referring to the company’s news release.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or twitter.com/TimOmarzu or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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