Spokane's Pacific Steel claims clean track record

Employees reported a barrel was accidentally punctured Wednesday morning, leaking a yellow gas

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Officials at Labor and Industries said the investigation into the gas leak at Pacific Steel could take months.

Representatives at Pacific Steel maintain that the Spokane plant has had a great track record. In fact, inspectors toured the plant earlier this year and found no violations.

Pacific Steel's Tacoma plant does not have the same clean sheet. The plant was cited for three major violations in 2012.

Employees reported a barrel was accidentally punctured Wednesday morning, leaking a yellow gas. Those in the area said the gas smelled strongly of cleaning products. Many nearby began experiencing breathing trouble and tightness in the throat.

Officials evacuated a four block radius around the plant, located on N. Freya Street.

READ: Potential impact of Pacific Steel & Recycling gas leak

After misidentifying the gas as Arsenic Trichloride, officials confirmed Friday night that it was chlorine gas that spilled. Chlorine can be dangerous in high quantities or through prolonged exposure. Ten people were transported to the hospital, eight listed in serious condition.

A representative at Pacific Steel said three of their workers hospitalized had dramatically improved by Friday afternoon. One of their employees that was in intensive car has since been released from the hospital.

READ: Pacific Steel workers conditions "dramatically improve"

The company said they track incoming chemicals through radio active detectors and through visual inspection from employees. The facility does not accept chemicals, and representatives still cannot explain how the leaked chlorine gas got into the plant in the first place.

"There are detectors -- and they are radio active detectors -- for all trucks and trains that come through the facilities," said a company representative. "That is the only thing there are really detectors for."

The company hopes to reopen next week. For right now, the company has shut down it's facility until Washington's Department of Labor and Industries gets back to them.

"We want to know what happened, how it happened -- all of the questions that the public have -- we want to know that too," said the representative.


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