Police and firefighters have contained about 200 gallons of fluoride that spill from a ruptured tanker truck at Missouri American Water’s central plant in Chesterfield and they are now waiting for a private clean-up crew to remove the chemical, said Dave Nichols, fire marshal of the Monarch Fire Protection District.
An early report from Missouri American put the size of the spill at about 4,000 gallons, or the entire load of the truck. But, Nichols said, the truck’s driver was able to flip an emergeny shut-off valve shortly after the spill was noticed.
Ann Dettmer, a spokeswoman for the water company, said the rupture occured at around 11 a.m. today in the parking lot of the plant, located at 901 Hog Hollow Road. She said that the truck’s driver and two employees from the plant were taken to an area hospital for observation but that the extent of their injuries — if any — were not available.
Fluoride is added to drinking water as a public health measure because it kills bacteria and hardens tooth enamel. In concentrated form, the chemical can be a harmful skin irritant. Nichols said that when fluoride mixes with water, it turns into a more toxic acid and then can prove more difficult to contain and clean up. “We just lucked out that it was a dry day,” he said.
Dettmer said there were no evacuations and no changes in operations at the water plant. Water quality, she said, is unaffected by the spill.