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Safety board releases findings on cause of chemical cloud over Atchison, Kan.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Unanswered questions are no longer lingering in the air in northwest Kansas. Investigators say they know what caused a chemical cloud to hover over Atchison last October.

At the Hilton President, the US Chemical Safety Board held a news conference Wednesday with their findings, although the investigation is still ongoing.

Residents remember when a chemical cloud formed over Atchison last October, sending more than a hundred people to hospitals.

The US Chemical Safety Board confirmed two chemicals inadvertently mixed together formed the cloud -- sodium hydrochlorite and sulfuric acid.

The mixture happened at MGP Ingredients located between 10th and 14th Streets, south of Main Street.

Families living under the cloud were told to close their doors and stay inside.

Others were told to leave town if possible.

The cloud dissipated after a few hours.

The US Chemical Safety Board has identified several shortcomings in the design and labeling of loading stations.

The chemical safety board recommends in the future, pipes should be better labeled and employees are better trained for emergencies.

NGP Processing Inc. released a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Since the incident on October 21, 2016 at our specialty wheat protein and starch facility in Atchison, Kansas, MGPI Processing, Inc. has cooperated fully with federal, state and local agencies in their ongoing investigations.  In addition, we are currently making every effort to enhance our operations so this type of situation does not happen again.  As part of this effort, we hired Burns & McDonnell to provide a comprehensive review of our loading, unloading, and chemical storage methods to strengthen the safety of our systems.

Over the past six months, we have worked closely with members of the community who sought medical attention following the incident to cover costs associated with treatment. We have paid for the medical treatment and related expenses, including  ambulance services and radiology and pharmacy bills of 134 individuals who sought care at area providers, including Atchison Hospital, Holton Community Hospital, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Hiawatha Community Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, and others.

We are thankful for the emergency responders, including the Atchison Fire and Police Departments, City and County officials, and the Kansas Highway Patrol, as well as the EPA and OSHA, who came together with us to quickly and effectively respond to the situation and keep our community safe. We are grateful to Atchison Hospital and the many other medical service providers who provided care to those impacted. Since the event, we have worked proactively with City and County first responders to assess our collective response and further augment emergency response planning.

MGP appreciates the important work that the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) performs to assist in the prevention of incidents. The company understands that CSB’s findings are preliminary and could be subject to change as further information is forthcoming.

MGP is proud of our history in Atchison and the strong partnership we have with the City. We are committed to being a good corporate citizen and to doing what is right by the members of our community.