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Emergency response agencies returned to the Winchester, Tenn., utilities' water treatment plant to debrief after a chlorine leak early on July 27, according to the Herald Chronicle.
Proper contamination measures were in place to ensure that the water supply was not affected. The leak was contained to the chlorine room at the plant so no Winchester residents were forcibly evacuated. No one was reportedly injured.
Workers at the plant are required to complete routine inspections of the machinery.Equipment such as a toxic gas detector can ensure that any leaks are quickly recorded.
One employee's retelling of the account showed the importance of proper gas and flame detector test equipment. Plant employee Clint Walker described how he initially spotted an actuator reading that indicated the chlorine cylinder had been shutdown just after midnight on July 27. Upon inspecting the machinery further, he found nothing, but felt it wise to revisit the spot hours later. Around 6:30 a.m., an alarm sounded alerting Walker to the chlorine room.
"I opened the door to the chlorine room to see which sensor was tripped causing the alarm to go off," said Walker. "As I opened the door, I smelled the odor of chlorine and exited the room and shut the door."
He was unable to manually stop the leak, so he altered a supervisor as to the severity of the issue. After the executive at the plant was unable to stop it either, they alerted the proper authorities.
According to Walker, the emergency responders arrived almost immediately. Wearing Hazmat suits to avoid the burning potency of chlorine, the fire and rescue unit was able to shut off the valve funneling the gas and contain the leak.
Praising the response teams
Reconvening two days after the outbreak, the multiple parties who assisted in containing the chlorine were commended for their efforts. Winchester Utilities was grateful for everyone involved in making sure no damage was done.
"The way the incident played out reminded me of a quote by Helen Keller, 'Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much," said Roger Caldwell, general manager of Winchester Utilities. "Saturday, we definitely saw this quote in action."
The agencies that responded to the initial call included local fire and police departments, Tullahoma Fire and Rescue's District 6 team and Franklin County Emergency Agency.
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