A huge chemical leak sent a large plume marching its way through the town of Atchison, Kansas, this morning, and authorities asked residents to shelter in place for nearly 2 hours.
Those in the plume area were told to shut their doors and windows and stay inside, while those in its path were evacuated. Residents were being instructed to avoid the area north of MGP Ingredients, where the leak originated. The Atchison County courthouse closed and employees were evacuated.
Additionally, U.S. highways 59 and 73, and Kansas Highway 7 were closed for about 90 minutes. Several schools were either evacuated or put on lockdown.
So far, at least 18 people have been treated for “respiratory discomfort,” according to Atchison Hospital. The injuries have been described as minor. Five of those being treated are city employees.
According to MGP’s website, the company is a leading supplier of premium distilled spirits, and specialty wheat proteins and starches. City officials say the leak was caused by 2 chemicals being inadvertently mixed together, which caused a reaction. No word on what those chemicals were, though many reports claim one of them was airborne chlorine powder.
Fortunately, the chemical cloud is lifting and the air has now been deemed safe to breathe, though officials say anyone who smells a bleach odor should contact the authorities so they can help ventilate homes.