Chemical spill clean-up near completion

Chemical spill clean-up near completion
Hydrochloric acid fills the air on Industrial Parkway in Laurel. Photo: Caleb Worrell

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The cleanup of a chemical spill at Baker Hughes in Laurel is near completion.

Friday night a 6,000 gallon tank of hydrochloric acid began leaking, forming a chemical cloud near Howard Industries.

According to the Jones County Emergency Management Deputy Director Marda Tullos, the spill should be completely cleaned up by Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

An investigation into the cause of the leak is on-going.

"An internal investigation is being conducted by the corporate office of Baker Hughes in Houston, Texas," Tullos said. "The 6,000 gallon tank is currently still on location, but turned on its side so they can determine what the problem is with the tank."

According to Tullos, approximately 5200 gallons of the chemical leaked from the tank.

"That night it was released it started to form a cloud, breathing it in is a very bad irritant to your throat and eyes," Tullos said. "We had a couple of people that got a little too close to it, but my understanding is that they are fine."

According to Tullos, the reason for the quarantine was due to a chemical cloud formed during the leak.

"The cloud formed because the humidity was low, and it started traveling down the road," Tullos said. "So we immediately blocked off the roads on each end so no further people could go through and be impacted by it."

Tullos said preliminary findings found no evidence of faulty equipment being the cause of the leak.

"I talked to a representative Saturday and he said that the tank is maybe 5 or 6 years old and he had never seen anything happen like this before." said Tullos. "In his several years of working there, he said this is just something that happened."