What caused the chemical accident at a B’ham water treatment plant?

Lessons learned from B'ham chemical spill

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Birmingham Water Works is continuing to investigate what caused a chemical reaction that sent over 50 people to area hospitals Wednesday.

However, officials have started to gain some understanding of the situation.

“What happened was they were delivered to the wrong site,” said Rick Jackson, spokesperson for the Birmingham Water Works Board.

The mix-up led to the combining of two chemicals, which in turn caused a chlorine gas to be released.

Jackson says up until this incident chemicals were only signed in once, which was when they got on the property. Now they’re implementing a “dual sign-in.”

"We’ll have someone signing in that delivery. We’ll have someone also at the actual site to make sure they are taking it to the appropriate place,” said Jackson.

On Thursday morning, interim general manager Michael Johnson provided board members with an update on the situation and the cleanup. The plant started treating water again late Wednesday and it is functioning now.

The water works still doesn’t have complete control of the facility however, as they wait on a third-party clean-up group and the Birmingham Fire Department to give them the all clear.

“Right now they are just not giving us a time frame. It has to be something that is dealt with very carefully and that part is out of our hands,” said Jackson.

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