Wynnewood Officials Investigate Cause Of Acid Leak

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Wynnewood Officials Investigate Cause Of Acid Leak

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Wynnewood Officials Investigate Cause Of Acid Leak

Associated Press - May 21, 2006

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Dozens of people in Wynnewood, Okla., were
allowed to return to their homes Sunday morning at their own risk
after an acid vapor leak at a local refinery sent potentially
dangerous fumes floating through the air.

Residents of about 45 homes, located five blocks north of the Gary-
Williams Co. refinery, were evacuated Saturday evening, Garvin
County Undersheriff Steven Brooks said.

Company officials were still investigating the cause of the leak and
monitoring acid levels Sunday morning. They found none of the acid
levels to be above Environmental Protection Agency standards, Mike
Hancock, a company spokesman, said.

About a week ago, the same plant caught on fire and about 150 people
were temporarily evacuated from their homes. Saturday's leak of
hydrogen fluoride may be related to last week's fire, Brooks said.

He said a fire-damaged valve may have caused the leak.

Brooks said area residents were first moved to the Wynnewood High
School football field after the leak was detected at the plant. High
school graduation was taking place at the school, he said.

Brooks got a call from the refinery at about 6 p.m. warning him of
the leak.

"They just advised us that it was an acid leak and it would be best
to evacuate those houses in the line of the wind,'' he said.

Hydrogen fluoride liquid leaked out of the refinery and turned to
gas, Brooks said. The chemical, known as hydrofluoric acid when it
is combined with water, can burn straight through skin and even
damage bone in its liquid form. As a gas, it can cause respiratory
irritation or, in strong doses, can cause death from irregular
heartbeat or from build up of fluid in the lungs, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Brooks said he had not heard of injuries related to the acid leak.

The refinery in Wynnewood produces gasoline and other products. It
is the smallest of the state's five active refineries, with the
capability of producing 53,000 barrels per day.
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