More details released on cause of weekend chemical incident at West Liberty Foods

West Liberty Foods in West Liberty on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020 (Courtesy: West Liberty Police Department)
West Liberty Foods in West Liberty on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020 (Courtesy: West Liberty Police Department)(KCRG)
Published: Feb. 12, 2020 at 4:39 PM CST
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Company officials have released more information about a hazmat incident at West Liberty Foods on Saturday that resulted in the temporary evacuation of nearby residences.

At around 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, February 8, 2020, an employee at the food processing plant smelled an unusual odor outside of the building on its north side. The employee discovered a vapor leaking from a chemical storage building and reported it to plant officials. This led to an emergency response involving the West Liberty Fire Department and the Muscatine County HAZMAT team.

A plastic tote containing a chemical marketed under the name Inspexx, produced by Ecolab Co., appeared to be the source of the vapor leak. The vapors appeared to be drifting toward empty turkey sheds west of the plant, and potentially toward apartment buildings on Short and Iowa Streets nearby. Those apartments were evacuated for around 20 minutes.

According to product safety data sheets for Inspexx, it is used as an anti-microbial treatment for raw poultry products. It has a vinegar-like smell and can cause respiratory irritation if its vapors are inhaled.

The situation was determined to be contained at around 9:03 p.m. Company officials said the leaky tote had been repaired and stored inside of another sealed tote.

No injuries were reported in the incident.

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