Possible chemical cloud - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Nitric acid spill

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -  Cedar Rapids firefighters respond to a nitric acid spill.

Police say hazmat and fire crews were called to the Electro-Coatings of Iowa plant at 911 Shaver Road NE around 9 Wednesday night. Passer-bys reported an orange-colored cloud of smoke above the building.

When firefighters arrived they saw deep orange-colored smoke ventilating from a chrome scrubber/chimney atop the building, so they called a Hazmat team.

Firefighters blocked off traffic to the 900 block of Shaver Road NE. Electro-Coatings of Iowa was closed at the time and there were no injuries.  Evacuations were not necessary and there were no immediate life-threats. 

The General Manager and a lab technician from Electro-Coatings confirmed that possible hazardous materials were inside the  building. Based on where the smoke was coming out of the building, crews suspected that nitric acid was involved.  Firefighters donned Class "A" Hazardous Materials suits and self-contained breathing apparatus to assess the scene inside the building.  The suits provide total encapsulation and a high level of protection against direct and airborne chemical contact.

Once inside the building, firefighters confirmed that nitric acid, which had a negative reaction with water or moisture caused the dark orange-smoke cloud and spillage onto the floor inside the business.  Electro-Coatings of Iowa was using two 220-gallon totes filled with nitric acid to strip nickel from steel parts.  When water gets into the mixture, there is a negative reaction which causes it to fume and can cause an increase in volume.  Firefighters ventilated the business by opening up overhead doors and were able to mitigate the corrosive substance. 

Nitric acid a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid that can cause severe burns and produces a suffocating odor. 

Online Producer: Maria Magner


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