Gas cylinders at source of leak stored incorrectly - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Gas cylinders at source of leak stored incorrectly

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The fire marshal said the chlorine gas cylinders were improperly stored. The fire marshal said the chlorine gas cylinders were improperly stored.

The chlorine cylinders that were determined to be the source of a gas leak that spread throughout Gurley City Hall Tuesday were placed there in a way that violated fire codes, according to the county fire marshal.

Officials were forced to evacuate the building Tuesday, and three people were treated for exposure to the fumes. Crews found the leak's source in a chlorine cylinder in an attached fire bay. City Hall was aired out during the overnight hours to let any further fumes dissipate.

Madison County Fire Marshal Bobby Rollins said the entire area had to be decontaminated by a professional Wednesday.

Gurley Mayor Robert Sentell said that public safety is a priority to him, although he admitted that Tuesday's incident "is the first time I even knew we had the tanks here."

When he was first asked what he learned from the situation, he said, "Really there weren't many lessons to be learned. We were following standard protocol."

However, the fire marshal said there was indeed an issue that needed to be addressed. The manner in which the chlorine tanks were stored was against the law.

"There are lessons learned in all situations," Mayor Sentell said after learning of the fire marshal's report. "We will take this and improve our process so we'll try not to have this incident happen again."

"We are just going to warn them, give them a verbal warning, and educate them on how to properly store hazardous material," said Rollins.

The mayor attributed the mistake to "holes in the process" that small towns don't think of.

With proper education comes proper awareness, and is something the fire marshal seems to understand following the situation in Gurley.

"They just didn't know any better, and in the future, I am sure it won't be handled that way," he said.

Rollins added that the best place to store chemicals of this nature is outside, not in a confined area. If you do come across a leak, let the air dissipate and above all, use common sense.

Mayor Sentell said the chlorine tanks are used to treat sewage water before it can be discharged into the tributary at Hurricane Creek. He said City Hall was the drop-off point until they could take it to the sewage processing plant.

He said the goal now is to deliver it directly to the plant.

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