No one was hurt in the incident and the spill did not escape the building at 240 Coney Island Drive to affect drinking or river water, according to Sparks Fire Department spokesman Division Chief Tom Garrison.
The spill was reported at Process Stainless Lab around 9 a.m. Employees there estimated about 250 gallons of phosphoric and sulfuric acids combined with water had leaked from a 55-gallon drum. The chemicals are used by the business in an electropolishing process for medical equipment, aircraft and submarine parts.
An employee at Process Stainless who asked not to be named said the leak occurred because the acid was improperly placed in a steel container by a vendor. A chemical reaction between the steel and acid occurred, causing the steel to break down and the acid to leak. The acid should have been placed in a polyurethane container, the employee said.
The four employees at Process Stainless Lab and one other business were evacuated from the building as a precaution. Sparks Fire Department teams entered the business to make sure the spill was contained and did not seep into any cracks between the wall and floor that might lead to the ground or water supply, Garrison said. Once that was determined, Hazardous Materials team members checked the temperature and pressure of the remaining drums to ensure no further leaks occurred.
Garrison said the spill did not lead to any exposure concerns with either the liquid or fumes. Most of the hazardous chemicals in the city limits are used by businesses in the area south of Greg Street where Thursday’s spill happened. Businesses using such materials are required to report them yearly to fire authorities, Garrison said.