October 12, 2008

Chemical Leak Spurs Pa. Evacuation

Thousands of western Pennsylvania residents returned home Sunday after a dangerous chemical was released from a nearby industrial facility, officials said.

Three people were hospitalized and 2,500 residents of Karns City and Petrolia, Pa., about 60 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, were evacuated Saturday when a low-lying cloud containing the chemical oleum, similar to sulfuric acid, escaped from the Indspec Chemical Corp. plant in Petrolia, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

After inspecting the areas of the towns affected by the cloud Sunday morning, no traces of the toxic chemical were found and residents were allowed to return, Freda Tarbell, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, told CNN.

She said Indspec uses the chemical in the production process for the chemical Resorcinol, described as a strong glue used in the tire industry.

"Of course, the concern here is Â… the potential for respiratory damage and skin burns, things like that," Tarbell told the Post-Gazette.