CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Crews are on scene at the Lanxess facility on King Street trying to figure out what caused a leak which resulted in a fire early Wednesday morning.
The Lanxess facility issued a statement to the media saying this happened just after midnight at the phosphorous unloading station.
According to the site manager, Jean-Francois Berthiaume, Phosphorus is a toxic chemical and ignites when exposed to air. The chemical is an eye irritant and exposure can also cause lung and throat damage.
“When phosphorus burns it creates a lot of smoke. You just need a small amount of phosphorus to create a lot of smoke,” says Berthiaume. “The smoke is considered an irritant that will cause a large quantity of irritations to eyes and lungs.”
Early this morning, the Charleston Fire Department responded to the scene.
Due to the extremely toxic nature of the leak, as a precautionary measure, a reverse 911 call was issued to people living in the area. Residents were asked to shelter in place and to secure windows and doors until further notice.
Roadways in the immediate areas including I-26 were closed to the public for a short period of time.
The chemical leak and fire have been contained.
The shelter in place has been lifted, and roadways have re-opened to traffic before 4 a.m. Wednesday.
Right now, no injuries or exposures have been reported as a result of the incident.
The facility will be closed until the cause of the leak is determined.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Lanxess facility and the Coast Guard are all investigating.
Authorities say that it’s a precautionary measure for the Coast Guard to investigate to ensure that the chemical did not enter our waterways.
The Lanxess facility had a Chlorine leak in May of 2019, but, according to the site manager, that leak is not correlated with this one.
We’re still working to learn more information this morning. Count on us to bring you the latest details.