Acid leak at Cargill plant under control

No injuries reported

Jeff Raasch
Published: August 9 2011 | 2:00 pm - Updated: 31 March 2014 | 5:23 pm in
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UPDATED at 12:45 p.m.

The situation at the Cedar Rapids Cargill plant on 16th Street southeast was resolved shortly after 10 a.m.

Cedar Rapids fire crews reported the situation under control and the acid neutralized and confirmed by p-h testing at the scene. The last fire crews left the plant shortly before 11 a.m. Trucks with grain to unload began entering the plant shortly after firefighters departed.

Adam Collins, STS Trucking, said what was normally a half hour process for him to unload at the Cargill plant became a four-hour ordeal Tuesday. Trucks with grain and other products to deliver had to wait longer in line because the plant closed for the acid spill cleanup.

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No injuries have been reported after a leak of hydrochloric acid at a Cargill plant in Cedar Rapids.

A company employee, who declined to be identified, confirmed the leak, which was reported around 7:20 a.m. at the plant at 1710 16th St. SE. He said a valve on a semi trailer failed and caused the acid to leak in mostly vapor form.

Officials estimated up to 200 gallons of hydrochloric acid leaked out of the 4,500-gallon trailer.

A HazMat team from the Cedar Rapids Fire Department was addressing the situation along with the company’s emergency action team. They were still working at 8:30 a.m.

Fire Department spokesman Greg Buelow said workers were offloading the hydrochloric acid from the trailer to a storage tank on the property when the chemical started leaking.

“The valve they believe failed is the one that they use to load the trailer, not the one they were using to offload,” Buelow said.

Buelow said the semi driver and a Cargill employee were in the area, but there were no exposures to the acid. He said firefighters were working to cap the leaking valve. A dike has been constructed to contain the acid that was in liquid form, he said.

Firefighters neutralized the acid with soda ash, which mitigated the threat of the substance.

Hydrochloric acid, which has many uses, is corrosive to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It is used daily in the corn-milling operation at Cargill, officials said.

The situation delayed several truck drivers who were waiting to unload corn. Their semis were lined up for more than a quarter-mile on 15th Avenue SE.

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