NOVEMBER 7, 2016
Port Allegany, PA
A chlorine gas leak shut down portions of Port Allegany and forced the evacuation of 50 to 100 people Monday morning.
No injures were reported in the incident that emergency responders made quick work of containing, McKean County Emergency Services Director Andrew Johnson reported to The Era.
The incident, which started around 8 a.m. Monday, involved a faulty valve on the borough’s water well on Pearl Street in the borough, Johnson said. He said that people were evacuated from Pearl Street and Main Street from Church Street to Arnold Avenue north in the borough.
Around 10 a.m. Monday, many people with cell phones in McKean County received a Civil Danger Alert issued for Port Allegany, leaving many to wonder what had happened.
But around that same time, the leak had been contained, and the system’s manufacturer was on the way, according to Johnson and Borough Manager Bob Veilleux.
In that some two-hour span, though, an estimated 48 pounds of chlorine gas leaked into the borough, Veilleux said. When the borough employees started performing maintenance, there were 114 pounds in the tank, and when the leak was stopped, there were 66 pounds remaining, he said.
Veilleux said the water operators were following standard operating procedures while performing maintenance on the water system. While performing the work, a valve started to leak and it could not be turned off, he said.
“After trying to shut the valve, the employees evacuated the building and notified me,” Veilleux said. “I immediately called 911 and then called Univar, the system’s manufacturer,” he said.
Meanwhile, borough employees canvassed the neighborhoods, telling people to evacuate and letting them that shelter had been available at the firehall.
“Emergency Management coordinated the response, including the Port Allegany Fire Department, Port Allegany Ambulance Service, and the Hazmat response team,” Veilleux said. “After the leak was contained by the Hazmat team, Univar was able to remove the chlorine cylinder from the building at around 12:30 p.m.”