Chemical spill in National City under control, evacuations lifted

Photo Credit: Union Tribune

NATIONAL CITY (CNS) – An unplanned chemical reaction at a South Bay cleaning-supplies business sent up a plume of noxious gas into the air today, prompting precautionary evacuations of surrounding homes and workplaces.

An oxidizing agent in a 55-gallon plastic drum began burning behind Prochem Specialty Products in the 100 block of East 18th Street in National City about 8:45 a.m., according to police and fire officials.

Workers at the business tried in vain to halt the out-of-control chemical reaction with extinguishers prior to the arrival of firefighters, city emergency-services Director Frank Parra said.

Police cleared everyone out of homes and businesses on 17th and 18th streets between B Avenue and National City Boulevard and directed people in other neighborhoods to the east — including students and staffers at two schools — to remain indoors until further notice.

By late morning, the unstable chemical compound had “pretty much burned itself out” and melted the barrel that had contained it, Parra said.

Authorities then began lifting the evacuation and shelter-in-place orders.

No injuries or structural damages were reported.

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