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GFFR releases details about chlorine gas leak at Malteurop

Chlorine gas leak reported at Malteurop
Chlorine gas leak reported at Malteurop
Fire Chief Jeremy Jones
Posted at 12:48 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 15:00:55-05

GREAT FALLS — Great Falls Fire Rescue has released details about Monday's chlorine leak at Malteurop. There were no injuries, and a faulty chlorine bottle and regulator is suspected to have caused the problem.

GFFR said in a news release that units were dispatched after a facility detection system identified the leak. Malteurop has two 150-pound chlorine cylinders on site that are stored in a cabinet on the outside of the main building. Piping from the cylinders transports the chlorine into the adjoining building. The chlorine is used to remove E.coli and other contaminants from the spring water that is piped in from Giant Springs. After chlorine is added to the water it sits in cisterns for a period of time until it is deemed safe to use for their manufacturing purposes.

The detection system alerted on the chlorine leak and reported a 10.3 ppm in the cabinet. 10ppm is the IDLH (immediately dangerous to life and health) level for chlorine. This level of risk requires a Level A hazmat response as chlorine was smelled inside the main building as well.

Chlorine gas leak reported at Malteurop
Chlorine gas leak reported at Malteurop

Great Falls Fire Chief Jeremy Jones said, "I responded on the initial alarm and consulted with BC (battallion chief) Jackson. B Platoon only had 3 hazmat team members on duty so a hazmat code red was sent out to summon hazmat team technicians to the scene. We had 5 off-duty technicians come in for assistance. It was noted that when a chlorine leak is detected an audible and visible alarm is sent out across the complex. A computer message to evacuate is also sent to all staff work stations."

When firefighters arrived at the scene, all Malteurop staff had evacuated and were accounted for.

The key response facts are listed below:

  • 4 Level A hazmat entries were made to the chlorine storage area and surrounding building
  • 2 chlorine A kits were applied by GFFR technicians to two 150 pound chlorine cylinders
  • 14 GFFR firefighters were on scene, 7 of the 14 were hazmat technicians
  • Units were on scene for approximately 4.5 hours
  • No injuries were reported by responders or plant staff
  • State duty officer was notified, incident was confined to Malteurop property

Jones said, "Malteurop maintenance supervisor Parish was a big help with plant logistics and system knowledge. The relationship that was built with this company during inspections, walkthroughs, and training opportunities paid dividends on this event as GFFR personnel and plant management worked together to conduct a safe response that mitigated the problem, eliminated risk to on-scene personnel and the public."

Jones added that the actions by on-scene staff helped limit the disruption of the business to continue operations.