Nitric acid spill leads to explosion at Rolls Royce plant, 8 taken to hospital

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 28, 2014)– Several people were injured after a chemical spill and explosion at Rolls Royce on the southwest side of Indianapolis.

Crews responded to the plant at 2059 S. Tibbs Ave. around 1:30 p.m.  Wayne Township officials said a nitric acid spill from a 250-gallon tank led to the explosion. The spill happened while transferring nitric acid.

“Crews did report there was a chemical cloud inside the building,” said Captain Michael Pruitt of Wayne Township Fire Department. “When you have a report of an explosion and have this many people working in the facility, you want to get everyone out to know what you’re dealing with.”

According to Wayne Township Fire Department and Rolls Royce, nine people were hurt. Seven employees were taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital, one went to Eskenazi Hospital and another was treated at the scene. All employees are accounted for, the company said via Twitter. All eight people have since been released from the hospital.

The Marion County Public Health Department was called to the scene to monitor the air quality.

Nitric acid is a strong, colorless to yellow and odorless acid that can cause severe burns to eyes, skin, respiratory track and gastrointestinal tract. It is corrosive and can react explosively with other materials. Inhalation, ingestion or contact can result in injury, burns or death.

“[If inhaled], those vapors will react with the water that’s in your lungs and burn your lungs,” said Dr. Anne Miller, a chemistry professor at Butler University. “A lot of of it because of the heat and acid that’s involved.”

The plant remains evacuated due to air quality concerns. Rolls Royce cancelled second and third shift Friday, but first shift will resume Saturday morning.