When workers at a German Kraft Foods facility accidentally poured nitric acid into a tank of sodium hydroxide, 250 factory employees fled and 700 firefighters arrived at the scene to combat the resultant blaze. About 1,800 people have been evacuated from the area and authorities have closed all nearby schools and kindergartens as well as a passing highway.
It’s not just the fire authorities are worried about, however. The nitrous gases from the reaction are highly toxic to the human body.
Poison Cloud Released
When the firefighters attempted to pump the nitric acid from the contaminated tank, they inadvertently released a plume of poisonous nitrous gas from the chemical reaction. The toxic cloud was dispersed on Tuesday morning, and the problematic acid mixture was, at the time of writing this article, being pumped out by rescue teams.
Witnesses compared the scene to something out of a disaster movie. Regional firefighters struggled with the fire but called upon specialists from Hamburg when the situation worsened on Tuesday morning.
Regional fire brigade spokesperson Stephen Meier says, “We have to swap in the specialists every 20 minutes, and then we also need new protective suits, and they are running short.”
Kraft Foods Under Fire
According to Kraft Foods spokesperson Heike Hauerken, the facility uses nitric acid and sodium hydroxide as cleaning agents. The facility produces cream cheese, ketchup, and mayonnaise—things most of us would probably prefer to steer clear of poison fumes.
If you’d like to steer clear of GMOs, too, it might help to avoid Kraft foods as much as possible. Even some of your favorite organic companies—like Back to Nature—are under Kraft’s thumb. Kraft Foods has even put forth over $500,000 against Proposition 37, which would require labeling of GMO foods.