COLUMBUS, Ind. — Roughly 200 employees at a Columbus factory were evacuated on Thursday morning due to an acid spill.
According to the Columbus Fire Department, firefighters were called to Rightway Fasteners Inc., located at 7945 S International Drive in Columbus, at approximately 9:40 a.m. on reports of an acid spill inside the facility.
The fire department said the building was evacuated as a precaution. No injuries were reported.
According to the fire department, the acid was Picric Acid — a flammable wet compound used in the production of explosives, matches and electric batteries. Approximately three quarts of the acid was stored in a chemical cabinet and was found to be leaking and crystallizing.
Due to concerns the acid could explode, the Columbus Police Department Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team was requested. After consulting with numerous hazardous material and explosive agencies, the team decided the best course of action was to remove the acid from the facility and destroy it in a controlled burn, the fire department said.
The cabinet containing the Picric Acid was rolled out into a vacant field by the EOD team, according to the fire department. The cabinet was then lowered into a four-foot-deep hole which had been lined with road flares. EOD technicians ignited the flares and initiated the burn.
After the control burn was completed, employees were allowed back into the facility.
The fire department said the entire operation lasted approximately five hours.
“When dealing with a low-frequency high-risk situation involving a hazardous material that has a potential for explosion, it is imperative that we take each step with caution and bring all the resources to the table to get it right. That takes a large team and a lot of time,” said Columbus Fire Chief Andy Lay.