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Two US chemical companies fined $1 million each for 2016 leak

28 May 2020

Two companies were fined $1 million each on May 27 after they pleaded guilty to violating clean air laws in relation to a 2016 chlorine gas leak in Atchison, Kansas. Harcros Chemicals and MGP Ingredients violated the Clean Air Act after they caused the gas leak which resulted in a large toxic cloud covering the city.

Image: CSB - Still image taken from CSB safety video
Image: CSB - Still image taken from CSB safety video

Both companies pleaded guilty and paid their respective fine following sentencing in Topeka on May 27. 

The incident in October 2016 occurred when a delivery truck, owned and operated by Harcros Chemicals, carrying 4,000 gallons of sulphuric acid was mistakenly connected to a tank containing 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite at MGP’s plant in Atchison, around 50 miles (80 kilometres) northwest of Kansas City.

The chemical reaction formed a chlorine gas cloud which spread across the city for around 45 minutes. Local authorities ordered local communities to shelter-in-place while some residents were forced to evacuate the area. In all, around 140 people required medical attention, including residents and employees of both companies. 

According to its website, MGP is a supplier of premium distilled spirits, and specialty wheat proteins and starches.

The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) released its final report on the incident in March 2018, details of which can be found here: https://www.csb.gov/mgpi-processing-inc-toxic-chemical-release-/

A CSB safety video detailing the key lessons learnt from the investigation can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tflm9mttAAI


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