October 31, 2014

Elyria
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UPDATED: Worker hospitalized following HAZMAT spill at Republic Steel

LORAIN — A Republic Steel worker was hospitalized Thursday with minor injuries after a hazardous material spill at the plant at 1807 E. 28th St.

Firefighters responded at 12:33 p.m. to the mill, according to fire Capt. Matt Homolya. The unidentified man was taken to Mercy Regional Medical Center around 3:15 p.m., according to Herb de la Porte, LifeCare Ambulance vice president. De la Porte said the man had to be tested for contamination by the Lorain County Hazardous Materials Response Team before being transported.

The team is comprised of members of Lorain County fire departments. Firefighters and team members departed the plant about 6:50 p.m. Homolya said Occupational Health and Safety Administration officials responded to the mill and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard Lorain station were notified.

Homolya said an accident occurred while chemicals were being removed from five old storage tanks Republic plans to reuse. Chemicals were being pumped into an approximately 8,000-gallon truck by workers from Youngstown-based Odyssey Environmental Services LLC.

A report on the accident was unavailable Thursday, but Homolya said the chemicals included aluminum hydroxychloride, phosphoric acid, phosphoric acid ester, sodium hydroxide and sodium nitrate. One of the chemicals ruptured a hose to the truck, causing a brownish, yellowish plume about 3 feet wide and 15 to 20 feet high to rise.

Homolya said the worker, who he wouldn’t identify, inhaled plume vapors. Paula Dudukovich, Republic director of human services, didn’t return a call or email.

A news release from Dudukovich said the spill was in a part of the plant where an approximately $110 million expansion is occurring.

“The incident caused no damage to the Lorain plant and no interruption to operations,” the release said.

The spill comes less than a month after a $2.4 million settlement between Republic and OSHA over safety violations at Republic plants in Ohio, including multiple violations in Lorain. The settlement involved incidents before a worker was crushed to death at the mill in February. That accident remains under investigation by OSHA.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.