Study Examines Chlorine Disaster | January 12, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 2 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 2 | p. 31 | Concentrates
Issue Date: January 12, 2009

Study Examines Chlorine Disaster

Department: Government & Policy

The deadly train wreck and chlorine spill that took nine lives and left hundreds injured in a small South Carolina town four years ago gives officials in larger metropolitan areas important insight into what to expect and how to prepare emergency response systems for an accidental or terrorist release of the potentially deadly gas, the authors of a new study say. “This is one of the largest community exposures to chlorine gas since World War I,” says David van Sickle, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health and society scholar at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and lead author of the report. “It was a tragic disaster that shows us what a significant challenge a large-scale chlorine gas release poses to health care facilities.” A collision of two freight trains in Graniteville, S.C., in January 2005 resulted in the release of approximately 60 tons of chlorine gas into the atmosphere. At least 525 people were treated in emergency rooms, and 71 were hospitalized. The study says that hospitals need to be able to quickly recognize the signs of chlorine exposure and have a plan to provide a sufficient number of mechanical ventilators in the event of another major chlorine disaster.

 
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