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NJ Chemical Leak Results in Two Injuries and a Shelter-in-Place Order

Posted on August 31, 2020 by Lauren Scott

Approximately 200 gallons of titanium tetrachloride were accidentally released at a plastics refining facility in Edison, NJ. Town officials issued an emergency shelter-in-place order and two individuals at a nearby business reported respiratory complications.

On the evening of August 23, a leak was detected from a facility distillation column, according to a company spokesperson. About 200 gallons of titanium tetrachloride was released, causing a visible cloud. The facility’s on-site incident response team was immediately activated and emergency response was quickly coordinated with Edison fire and police departments, Middlesex County HazMat, Middlesex County Emergency Management, and Edison Emergency Management.

Titanium tetrachloride is used as catalyst in the production of plastic. When released, it can form opaque clouds of titanium dioxide and hydrated hydrogen chloride after exposure to air.

Although it breaks down quickly in water, exposure to titanium tetrachloride may occur via inhalation or dermal contact. Acute exposure may cause skin, eyes, throat, irritation. Titanium tetrachloride build up in the lungs can also cause shortness of breath and coughing.

By about midnight, all necessary repairs were made, the release was contained, and the shelter-in-place order was lifted. NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is considering opening an investigation as to what caused the release.

Until then, DEP Waste Enforcement Program will review documentation that the facility is required to submit in accordance with the Discharges of Petroleum and Other Hazardous Substances rules as well as the Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act. The DEP’s Air Enforcement Program also has requested information from the facility about the vapor release.

Online HAZWOPER Training 

OSHA requires HAZWOPER training for any personnel who are involved in one of the following activities:
  • Work at an environmental cleanup site (e.g., Superfund cleanup site)
  • Work at an EPA or state-permitted hazardous waste TSDF
  • Responding to releases of hazardous materials
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Incident Commander (Level 5) - 4 Additional Training Hours 

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