Firefighters were called to BioLab Monday around 6:15 p.m. for a chemical reaction incident, which closed local roads for a short period of time while chlorine clouds dispersed.
Chlorine that was sitting in a regrind hopper at the plant reportedly became contaminated, which started a chemical reaction, said Rockdale County Fire and Rescue Department Deputy Chief Mike Lee. Unlike the fire at BioLab in 2004, the reaction did not cause other nearby materials to burn so there was no fire. The origin of the contamination and the reaction is still under investigation.
Firefighters were on the scene for about four hours. The chlorine stored in the hopper was of the kind used in swimming pools, explained Lee, and firefighters doused the hopper with water to neutralize the reaction. "It look lots of water," said Lee. He said there was no environmental contamination that he knew of so far.
Deputies closed portions of Old Covington Highway and Industrial Boulevard for a short period. No evacuations were called as of 7 p.m., according to Sheriff Jeff Wigington.
Thin, hazy clouds that left a slight stinging sensation in the eyes and nose could be seen and felt blowing from behind the front building. Emergency personnel turned away drivers, warning of possible effects of chlorine in the air.
Rockdale County Sheriff's Office, emergency medical personnel assisted in handling the incident and DeKalb County's fire department provided relief assistance for RCFRD personnel.
Firefighters also responded to another call while the BioLab incident was underway on Underwood Court, which ended up originating from a shorted out bathroom fan.
The chemical reaction on Monday occured in the BioLab plant, across the railroad tracks from the storage facility.
The BioLab storage facility in Conyers was the site of an intense chemical fire in May 2004. A new company, Kiser Harriss Chemical Distribution Centers Inc. of Belmont, N.C., took over management of the storage facility and distribution last fall. Kiser Harriss VP of Operations, Forest Pearce, clarified that the company was not affiliated with the plant and handled the chemical products after it left the plant.