Norphlet – The Norphlet School District was closed Friday after federal inspectors found that a 7,800-gallon tank of hydrofluoric acid was being stored improperly at a nearby chemical plant.
Officials say the school was closed as a precaution, and a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality says there’s been no chemical leak.
Union County Judge Bobby Edmonds declared an emergency Thursday after Homeland Security officials inspected Norphlet Chemical and found flaw in a tank that held hydrofluoric acid. As a precaution, the Norphlet School District closed Friday. Edmonds said the school planned to reopen Monday.
Hydrofluoric acid in low doses can irritate the eyes, nose and respiratory tract, and in higher doses it can cause severe burns, chronic lung disease or even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The plant was completed in 2007 but never went into operation. Officials say it is idle for financial reasons.
Edmonds said all the plants’s 30,000 gallons of chemicals would be moved from the plant within the next five to seven days, with the help of a hazardous materials team. He said Friday that an EPA analysis of the city’s air found nothing troubling. Still, he said that declaring an emergency was the right thing for the city.