HazMat chief says training prepared them for chlorine leak

HazMat training helped with the chlorine spill in Youngstown, Ohio

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Hundreds of gallons of chlorine leaked from a water treatment plant on Youngstown’s south side Monday, but no one was hurt thanks in part to the quick response of the Mahoning County Hazardous materials response team.

Within less than an hour of the leak being discovered, HazMat and emergency management crews were already on scene and had a perimeter set up. Mahoning Conuty Deputy HazMat Chief Silverio Caggiano said the swift and accurate response was because of his team being so well trained.

All Youngstown firefighters are required to train monthly to combat a HazMat situation, but some who specialize in HazMat situations like Monday’s chlorine leak at the Youngstown waste water treatment plant train even more.

“They train continuously. We have one four-hour drill on a Wednesday and one eight-hour drill on a Saturday every month,” Caggiano said.

That training came in handy when more than 500 gallons of chlorine leaked from a holding tank in the plant.

“Once I had my HazMat team on scene, I got those guys dressed, they went in and thank goodness it was a quick fix and everything was taken care of,” Caggiano said.

Cagginio said his team has trained for a state required scenario nearly identical to this three years ago.

“We actually in the HazMat world did a worse-case scenario of a totally catastrophic release of chlorine,” Caggiano said. “If you took a look at the catastrophic sudden release, we were projecting like 8,000 people dead and 14,000 people displaced.”

Caggiano said he is thankful that no one was hurt. However, some businesses in the area of the nearby industrial park were upset they had to shut down for the rest of the day.

“We’ve got the leak taken care of but until we get rid of all the product that is left over inside, I am not going to take a risk and have any people come to work. It is not worth it,” Caggiano said.

The streets that were closed and businesses that were shut down are expected to open at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.

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