ENGLAND, Ark. — A mix-up involving chemicals at the water treatment plant in the central Arkansas town of England led to an evacuation of several businesses Thursday near the facility.
Police in the Lonoke County community cleared the area for several hours after they say a chemical company worker mistakenly poured fluoride into a storage vat containing chlorine. Between 50 and 75 people were forced to leave from restaurants and other businesses, said England Police Chief Herman Hutton.
He said the chemical worker poured about 10 to 20 gallons of fluoride into a container holding around 150 gallons of bleach before realizing his mistake. The chemical reaction, which happened around 11 a.m., created a dangerous gas.
A water plant worker and an employee from a nearby fertilizer company were treated for breathing problems at the scene.
“It could have been a more serious situation had it happened in an enclosed area,” Hutton said, adding that the doors of the building were open, which allowed the gas to circulate.
He said there was no threat to the city’s drinking water because the container where the chemicals were mixed was only used for storage.
The Pulaski County Hazmat team had the area cleaned up by 2 p.m.