Sulfuric acid spilled into river

Wheatland Tube in Sharon

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The cleanup continued Thursday afternoon after a 20,000-gallon fiberglass tank ruptured at the Wheatland Tube plant in Sharon, sending the 12 percent sulfuric acid solution into a tributary that feeds into the Shenango River.

The spill caught Zachary Rhoades and Rebecca Ecker, who live nearby, by surprise as they headed to school Thursday morning.

“We saw them spraying white stuff on it and I guess that was lime,” Rhoades said.

After noticing the chemical spill overnight, the company’s spill cleanup plan went into effect to contain the solution.

Pennsylvania American Water spokesman Gary Lobaugh said steel company employees knew exactly what to do and they did it as soon as possible. Pennsylvania American Water is located a little further downstream and he said the company did not notice any change in pH levels in the water Thursday morning. He said they expect no disruptions in water service or quality.

Some fish were killed as a result of the spill.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the spill released about 5,000 gallons of the 12 percent sulfuric acid solution that traveled across the building, through the parking lot and into a drainage ditch that eventually ran into the Shenango River. Several communities, including New Castle, get their drinking water from the river.

Officials said it will take a few days to clean up.

Wheatland Tube General Manager Tim Feeney said the company is cooperating and assisting in the cleanup.

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