ATCHISON, Kan. — Two Kansas companies were indicted Wednesday for a chemical spill in 2016 that sent multiple people to the hospital.
The two companies were indicted on federal charges of safety violations that caused a greenish-yellow toxic chlorine gas cloud to form over the city of Atchison in Oct. 2016.
The indictment alleges more than 140 people sought medical attention after 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid combined with 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite to form a toxic cloud that covered the city for 45 minutes until emergency personnel arrived to turn off the flow, according to U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister.
Midwest Grain Products, Inc., of Atchison, Kan., and Harcos Chemicals, Inc., of Kansas City, Kan., are charged with Clean Air Act violations that put the public in danger.
MGPI released the following statement Wednesday evening:
“MGPI Processing, Inc., is reviewing this claim. The company has been focused on the Atchison community, our employees and cooperating fully with safety officials since this incident. In fact, the federal government agency responsible for chemical safety complimented MGPI’s response.”
The indictment alleges that on Oct. 21, 2016, a driver for Harcros Chemicals, Inc. pulled a truck into Midwest Grain’s facility in Atchison to deliver sulfuric acid. An operator for Midwest Grain helped the driver access the transfer equipment. When the driver mistakenly connected the sulfuric acid line to the sodium hypochlorite line, toxic gas began to form. The indictment alleges both men violated safety rules by failing to verify that the connection was correct and failing to monitor the transfer.
If convicted, the two companies face a fines anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million.
The Environmental Protection Agency investigated the incident.