Hazardous chemical spill cleaned up - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Hazardous chemical spill cleaned up

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PEARL, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

All is clear after what could have been a very dangerous situation in Pearl. State emergency officials and officers from the Pearl Police Department were out into the wee hours of the morning cleaning up a hazardous chemical spill at a truck company at 150 Becknell Street.

The scene in pearl on Monday night was a bit chaotic. Businesses like Sam's Club and Bass Pro Shop were evacuated and roads were closed near a hydrochloric acid spill. It happened at the Vitran Trucking Company around 7:20 P.M. Monday.

Truck driver Emmanuel Coleman works near the accident site and was near the scene when it all happened. Coleman says, "I came in off my run and the parking lot was like vacant, I was like what is going on you know?"

Shortly after asking himself that question Coleman says, "I saw a white cloud come out from over here."

And shortly after that, "there was a fireman telling me to get out of here that there was a hydrochloric acid spill and everybody should be out of the area because it could harm you," says Coleman.

Pearl Police Lieutenant Butch Townsend says the spill occurred after workers at the truck company attempted to load a 500 or 600 gallon container of hydrochloric acid.

"They had it on a forklift for whatever reason it fell off of that forklift and the contents spilled out," says Townsend.

Officials say they took precautionary measures by shutting down a portion of I-20 and Highway 49. Pearl Mayor Brad Rogers says, "the spill was contained, semi-contained to the building where the spill occurred, but the concern came when the vapor cloud actually exited the building."

Roads were closed until about 4:30 Monday morning while the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality oversaw the clean-up. If inhaled, hydrochloric acid can cause serious breathing problems. "It was really frightening you just have to get away from it because vapors can be blown here and there and if you start inhaling it, it can do harm to your body," says Coleman.

 Officials say clean-up was complete around seven Monday morning. Also, the Mississippi Department of Air Quality reports that the air is safe.

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