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Employees at the L.G. Chem plant in Holland, Mich., were forced to evacuate on Oct. 25 after noticing the smell of natural gas.
Occurring around 1:45 p.m., the battery manufacturer called the utility company to investigate the leak, local ABC affiliate WZZM reported. Crews from the Holland Fire Department also arrived on scene.
Natural gas, commonly used to heat home and businesses, can be both flammable and toxic. If high concentrations build in the air, any spark or source of ignition can cause an explosion. A methane gas detector, however, can read if the percentage of gas in the air is high enough to burn.
A toxic threat of natural gas comes from carbon monoxide, which is released when natural gas is only partially burned. Initial exposure can induce headache, fatigue, nausea and dizziness, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Long term exposure of heavy concentrations can induce vomiting, loss of consciousness and ultimately death. Being a colorless and odorless gas, the best way to monitor levels is with a toxic gas detector.
At the L.G. Chem plant, no information was reported on the source of the leak. Luckily, however, no injuries were reported.
Production of lithium ion batteries at the plant was halted in September amid concerns that one of the chemicals used might not be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, Wood TV reported. The EPA had issued a subpoena in July to learn what chemicals were used at the plant to determine the associated hazards. The production shutdown, however, was the decision of the company.
As of Oct. 29, operations have resumed at the facility, WWMT reported. The company expects to begin shipping its product in November.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection.