Dairy Farmers of America launches probe after chemical release

By Mark Astley

- Last updated on GMT

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Dairy Farmers of America launches probe after chemical release
US co-operative Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has launched an investigation to determine what caused a “hazardous” chemical release at its Adrian, Michigan processing plant last week.

On Friday 15 February 2013, Adrian Fire Department was forced to issue a ‘shelter in place’ order - advising people within a tenth of a mile of the plant “to shelter in place until further notice.​” The notice was issued following an incident at the plant involving nitric acid and sodium hydroxide.

In a Facebook update on the incident, Adrian Police Department revealed that the safety order had been issued after a “barrel containing 30-35 gallons of nitric acid” ​reacted with a “small amount of sodium hydroxide.”

Speaking with DairyReporter.com, a spokesperson for DFA confirmed that staff at the plant had enacted a crisis response plan in reaction to “a leak.”

No injuries were reported in relation to the incident, the spokesperson added.

Crisis response plan “implemented”

“Early in the morning of Friday, February 15, 2013, we discovered a leak in one of the barrels that holds cleaning chemicals at our Adrian, Michigan plant. We immediately implemented out crisis response plan, evacuated the premises and notified local authorities,” ​said the spokesperson.

“An investigation continues to determine exactly how the leak occurred. Once this information is available, corrective measures will be implemented to prevent a repeat occurrence.”

Operations at the plant, which manufactures a range of dairy products, were brought to a halt as a result of the incident. The DFA spokesperson added, however, that its products have not been affected.

“Condensed milk, cream and non-fat dry milk are produced at the plant. However, the leak occurred in an area that does not affect food products,” ​said the spokesperson, adding that operations resumed later in the day.

“Appropriate” clean-up steps

Adrian Police Department provided regular updates on the incident after initially announcing that there had been a “chemical release”​ at the plant.

It later confirmed that “the problem is an on-site issue, with no immediate threat to the public.” ​It later revealed that the “chemical emergency”​ was over and the ‘shelter in place’ order had been lifted.

“All roads are open, and the shelter in place order has been lifted. Dairy Farmers of America and a hazardous materials clean-up crew are taking appropriate steps to remove the contaminated chemical from the area,” ​said the Police Department’s Facebook update.

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