MOSES LAKE-- The people of Moses Lake are now free to leave their homes following a chemical leak Friday morning.
The incident started at 7:05 a.m. at the REC Silicon plant in the 3300 block of Road N NE.
Witnesses said a huge plume of smoke erupted from the building and spread through the area. Jani Gilbert from the Department of Ecology said a failed hose in the distillation plant led to the release of two types of acid, Silicon tetrachloride and Dichlorosilane. Together, the two create Hydrochloric acid when released in the atmosphere.
Emergency crews are still working to determine what exactly happened.
Gilbert said that the wind carried the chemical south toward I-90, which was fortunate in this case because that area is not heavily populated. The Grant County Sheriff’s Office said REC believes these chemicals pose a low risk to the public, but if people think they were affected by the cloud, they should take a shower and change clothes. They can also make a claim by calling 509-793-9000.
The sheriff’s office gave the all-clear just after 9:15 a.m. after asking people to stay indoors. Officials considered a possible evacuation, but then decided to ask residents to stay in their homes and shut off their ventilation systems. No official evacuation order was ever in place.
We have yet to hear any information from REC about what happened. According to the company’s website, REC Silicon is one of the world’s largest producers of silicon products. They are commonly used in film and LCD displays. It is also one of the leading players in the solar energy industry.
Gilbert said REC is required by their permit to issue a full report about the incident within 24 hours.
Portions of I-90 were shut down, but have since reopened.