Hazmat responds to chemical reaction at South Bend adhesive plant

HMN- South Bend, Indiana chemical plant fire causes shelter in place orders according to WNDU News Center 16.

“Wednesday night, South Bend fire activated its hazmat team after reports of chemical explosions at a near west-side factory.

Around 9:30 p.m. first responders were called to Royal Adhesives in the 2000-block of West Washington St.

Crews soon determined that a chemical reaction occurred and not an explosion or spill.

Officials say a 250-gallon vat of polymer adhesive over-heated causing smoke to fill a 3,000 square foot production room.

“Polymer adhesive’s, like glue basically is what it is. It reacts with water and air. And they have a chute that pulls the fumes off of it while it’s reacting; somehow the shoot came off,” said Jim Luccki, chief of operations, South Bend Fire Department.

Fumes escaped into the air instead of being sucked out leaving a strong smell of chemicals to linger near Royal Adhesives.

“In a situation with a polymer or a polymerization, you have a problem possibility of an explosion if it’s confined or putting a toxic chemical out into the air,” said Captain Ed Meyer, South Bend Fire Department Hazmat Team.

UPDATE: Hazmat responds to chemical reaction at South Bend adhesive plant

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – New information:
Wednesday night, South Bend fire activated its hazmat team after reports of chemical explosions at a near west-side factory.

Around 9:30 p.m. first responders were called to Royal Adhesives in the 2000-block of West Washington St.

Crews soon determined that a chemical reaction occurred and not an explosion or spill.

Officials say a 250-gallon vat of polymer adhesive over-heated causing smoke to fill a 3,000 square foot production room.

“Polymer adhesive’s, like glue basically is what it is. It reacts with water and air. And they have a chute that pulls the fumes off of it while it’s reacting; somehow the shoot came off,” said Jim Luccki, chief of operations, South Bend Fire Department.

Fumes escaped into the air instead of being sucked out leaving a strong smell of chemicals to linger near Royal Adhesives.

“In a situation with a polymer or a polymerization, you have a problem possibility of an explosion if it’s confined or putting a toxic chemical out into the air,” said Captain Ed Meyer, South Bend Fire Department Hazmat Team.
Meyer says this was one of the infrequent occasions where hazmat was needed to report to the scene. He says on average the team gets activated three to four times per month; other times, he says, they may go weeks without responding to any incidents.

As the hazmat unit arrived Wednesday, area streets were closed and residents were advised to stay inside to avoid breathing the fumes.

“Typically with a hazmat scene, we move slowly and deliberately. Depending on what the chemical may be, it may not be a benefit for us to go rushing in right away,” said Chief Steve Cox, South Bend Fire Department.

Equations and calculations go into determining the best approach.

“We have to concern ourselves with where that chemical is moving. Wind direction, speed, temperature, barometric pressure and then the density of whatever the chemical is; those things will all determine what the size of an evacuation is that we need to work on,” said Cox.

While Wednesday’s chemical reaction was under control by midnight Chief Cox says in a larger scale situation, first responders would initiate an evacuation if necessary.

“Get around to the area, knock on doors and get people out of their homes,” said Cox.

Royal Adhesives President and CEO, Ted Clark says operations within the production room were suspended Thursday until a full investigation is complete.

Wednesday, two employees requested to be taken to the hospital for evaluation but were released this morning. No injuries were reported.

Below is the full statement provided to NewsCenter 16 from Royal Adhesives President and CEO Ted Clark on Thursday afternoon:

At approximately 9:15 p.m., a mixer producing an epoxy adhesive overheated causing thermal decomposition. The smoke from the mixer filled most of a 3000 sq. ft. production room. The Fire alarm was pulled by an operator outside of the production room. The fire department arrived on scene and took control as Incident Command and called for a shelter-in-place of surrounding neighborhood. Initially, about a 4-block radius around plant was blocked to any traffic. By about 10:20pm, the fire department reduced the blocked off area to only the plant perimeter. A representative from the Emergency Response section of IDEM responded to the scene and verified that there were no chemical release issues.

The fire department relieved pressure off the mixer and then set up additional exhaust fans to air out the production room, and after getting readings of less than 10 parts per million Carbon Monoxide the Fire Department gave the all-clear, which was about 12am. There was no explosion, no fire and no environmental release and the fire department did not use any extinguishing agents. We have discontinued operations within the production room until further investigation is completed. The balance of the plant will re-start at 6am Thursday. Two employees requested to be taken to the hospital for evaluation and were released early this morning.

Original Story:

A chemical reaction at a South Bend factory Wednesday night sent firefighters and hazmat to the scene.

Emergency responders were called out to Royal Adhesives just before 9:30 p.m. in the 2000-block of West Washington St.

Officials say they noticed a plume in the air and called in hazmat as a precaution; and until they knew what they were dealing with, they evacuated workers, set up a perimeter and told neighbors to stay in their homes.

“They have a 250 gallon vat that they mix polymer adhesives, like a glue basically is what it is,” said Asst. Chief Jim Luccki from the South Bend Fire Dept. “It reacts with water and air. They have a chute that pulls the fumes off of it while it’s reacting and somehow the chute came off.”

According to President & CEO Ted Clark of Royal Adhesives, two employees requested to be taken to the hospital for evaluation and were released early Thursday morning. No injuries were reported.

Roads were closed in the area while they handled the situation.”

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