A chlorine leak at a Scottsdale water plant forced two employees to receive medical attention and brought a fire department hazardous material team to the scene, but the city says there was never a threat to the public and the incident did not require disclosure.
One employee complained of respiratory discomfort and was transported to the hospital, where he was treated and released that day. A second employee reported to a clinic four days later to receive treatment for skin irritation, according to a one-page memo released by Scottsdale on Friday that provides an account of the Nov. 30 incident. Both employees have returned to work, the memo states.
The chlorine leak occurred at the CAP Water Treatment Plant, which is located at the Scottsdale Water Campus north of Loop 101, between Hayden and Pima roads. The leak was contained to a chlorine storage building and occurred when employees were testing a newly-replaced valve, the memo states.
Scottsdale said it never alerted the Environmental Protection Agency, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality or the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration because the EPA only requires public notification for a chlorine release of 10 pounds or more outside the boundary of the water campus facility, and no chlorine was released outside the boundary.
The memo does not state how many pounds of chlorine were released.
Scottsdale spokesman Pat Dodds said he did not know the amount, but it was not germane because it did not leave the building.
A three-paragraph note was sent to the City Council members and high-ranking executive employees on Nov. 30, but no further notification was made until the memo was drafted at the request of some council members. The Tribune first inquired about the incident earlier this week.
“It was considered a work-related incident and nothing that would affect the public in any way,” Dodds said in explaining why no public notice was given.
According to the memo, employees were in the chlorine storage building testing a newly-replaced valve. The employees exposed to chlorine initially entered the building without protective equipment and immediately exited and emergency systems were activated. No chlorine was released outside the building and there was never any loss of water or diminishment of water quality. The Nov. 30 note to the council said employees in a nearby lab smelled chlorine and were sent to another area.
Councilman Bob Littlefield, who said he asked the city for more information, said: “The city is claiming it’s not a big deal and if this is all there is to it, the answer is it’s probably not a big deal.”
A water resources department training and safety coordinator is now reviewing all training and emergency procedures.