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Archive for Wednesday, November 14, 1990

TRUCK TIPS OVER AT AREA PLANT, SPILLS SMALL AMOUNT OF ACID

November 14, 1990

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A tanker truck loaded with sulphuric acid tipped onto its side but leaked only about a cupful of the highly toxic liquid in an accident this morning at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant, about 13 miles east of Lawrence.

Tom Stutz, civilian executive assistant for the army staff at the plant, said the accident occurred shortly after 6:30 a.m. near the main entrance of the plant, located southwest of DeSoto. He said a flange on the tanker was damaged, causing acid to begin dripping from the tank.

Stutz said the truck belonged to Koch Industries, a Wichita company that is leasing a sulphuric acid production facility at the plant. The accident, he said, occurred as the truck was leaving the plant, fully loaded with several thousand pounds of a 93 percent sulphuric acid solution.

AFTER THE accident, Stutz said, Koch officials rigged a pump to the damaged tanker and began pumping the acid into another truck. Stutz said officials thought all the liquid would be pumped out by 1 p.m. today

Stutz and other officials said they did not know the cause of the accident or the truck driver's name.

Lt. William Garrett of the Johnson County Sheriff's Department said no one, including the driver, was injured.

After the accident was reported, Garrett said, Johnson County officials relayed details to Countryside Elementary School, which is located just north of the plant near the accident site.

A spokesman for the DeSoto school superintendant's office this morning said district officials decided to cancel classes at Countryside.

STEVE MARTEN, deputy director of the Johnson County Emergency Management Department, said that under normal weather conditions, officials immediately would evacuate everyone within 150 feet of a major sulphuric acid spill. If the wind were blowing to the north, he said, officials would evacuate Countryside Elementary as well as the Clearview City retirement community, which also is located just north of the plant.

As it was, sheriff's officers closed entrances to everyone except plant employees while the acid was being pumped from the damaged truck.

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