Fluoride Action Network

2 water treatment workers in hospital after fluorosilicic acid spill

Source: Sentinel & Enterprise | November 11th, 2005 | By Caitlyn Kelleher

WESTMINSTER — Emergency crews responded to a chemical spill at the Regional Water Treatment Facility Thursday afternoon, after one of the storage tanks leaked about 750 gallons of fluorosilicic acid.

The leak did not pose any danger to the public, according to Westminster Fire Chief Brenton MacAloney, and was contained in a cement area.

“It is used routinely to add fluorine to the drinking water,” said Fitchburg Department of Public Works Commissioner Denis Meunier.

The filtration plant located on Hager Park Road/Route 140 in Westminster is operated by the City of Fitchburg.

The plant treats about 5 million gallons of water for both Fitchburg and Westminster.

“One of the treatment plant operators tripped on the pipe leading from the storage tank (causing the leak),” Meunier said. “None of it got into the drinking water or the environment.”

The operator and two of his colleagues were transported to the hospital for exposure to the chemical, which when not mixed with water can cause burns or respiratory problems, said Meunier.

MacAloney said two employees came into direct contact with the chemical.

Emergency crews transported both employees to the hospital, including one who decontaminated himself on scene and returned to his Fitchburg home.

“They are believed to be non-life threatening,” he said.

A third employee was brought to the hospital for possible respiratory exposure, MacAloney said.

Meunier said only three employees were at the treatment plant at the time of the accident.

The accident happened shortly after noon on Thursday.

MacAloney said it took the state Hazardous Material team and the private clean-up firm hours to clean up the site.

Fluorosilicic acid is used for dental care, Meunier said.

Meunier said the acid will not be added until the tank is repaired, he said.

He expected the repair to be done by Monday.