No one in particular is responsible for hydrochloric acid making its way Monday into the Bellaire water supply, according to the water plant superintendent.
Bellaire residents were advised Monday morning not to use village water for any reason after hydrochloric acid – mistaken for fluoride – was placed into the water supply. The warning was issued at about 7 a.m., and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency lifted that caution at about 1 p.m.
And officials at Belmont Community Hospital, located in the village, want the public to know that patients there were never in danger as a result of the contamination. Hospital Administrator Gary Gould said the facility receives its water supply from the Belmont County Water District, not from the village water system.
Gould also invited any residents who had consumed village water prior to hearing the warning to visit the hospital’s emergency room for treatment or for answers to their questions and concerns.
Bellaire Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Kirk Baker said hydrochloric acid is not usually used at the facility and was at the plant by mistake. He said the container in which it was delivered looked like the containers that hold the fluoride.
Baker was reluctant to place blame for the mishap.
“It’s not just one (person) at fault,” Baker said. “It was an accident. We got (hydrochloric acid) instead of the fluoride we feed (into the system), but it was a small amount. They came in the same container, so it was just a mistake.”
Baker advised local hospitals and emergency rooms of the situation after the mistake was discovered. He said there were no reports of anyone being harmed from contaminated water. Because of the water problems, Bellaire High School was dismissed at 8:15 a.m., while St. John Central students were dismissed at 8:45 a.m., according to reports.
“It was an accident,” Baker said. “It’s never happened before, and it won’t happen again.”