Clean-up from chemical leak at Middletown water plant complete; investigation looms

Clean-up operations have been completed at the Middletown Water Treatment Plant following a chemical leak Thursday that injured two employees. Next, the city will investigate how more than 4 tons of powdered lime escaped from a storage bin at the plant.

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Clean-up operations were complete at about 3 a.m. Friday and did not affect the treatment plant’s daily operations nor the city’s drinking water, according to Shelby Quinlivan, city communications coordinator.

Two of the plant’s employees were injured when the powdered lime, which is used to soften the water from the Great Miami Buried Aquifer, escaped from a storage bin, Middletown Fire Chief Paul Lolli said.

When water and lime combine, it will cause “significant burns” to the body, he said. One water plant employee suffered moderate burns; the other suffered minor burns to their back of neck and arms and legs.

Both of the injured employees were released Thursday night after being treated at Atrium Medical Center, according to Quinlivan.

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The plant has 13 employees, and at the time of the incident there were 15 people in the facility, she said.

It will take about two weeks to repair the lime feeding machine, Quinlivan said. She did not yet have cost estimates for the repairs.

An investigation into how the rotary valve malfunctioned will also be conducted, she said.

The valves are inspected annually, but she did not know when they were last inspected.

Firefighters were at the scene for more than two hours and made multiple entries wearing special protective suits as they went inside a maintenance area at the treatment plant. There was no structural damage to the facility as a result of the incident.

The Middletown Water Treatment Plant, located at 805 Columbia Ave. was built in 1971 and treats about nine million gallons of water a day for the city.

City officials will meet next week for an after-incident review.

“We have an amazing staff at the city of Middletown,” City Manager Doug Adkins said. “They handled yesterday’s situation with grace and professionalism. Police cleared the area and took care of traffic. Fire responded and helped our injured colleagues and took care of the hazmat response. Public Works kept water production going and immediately worked on clean up. Everyone else kept the city running while our first responders handled the situation. You can’t ask for better teamwork or a more thorough response.”

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