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Butts chlorine leak sparks Henry haz-mat response

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@henryherald.com

JACKSON — A chlorine leak at the Butts County Water Treatment Plant garnered a response Saturday night from the Henry County Fire Department’s haz-mat team.

Capt. Sabrina Puckett said the team was sent out to the plant on Stark Road just after midnight. No injuries were reported.

“The plant manager and only employee on duty had stated that he heard a ‘boom’ and as he was exiting his office, he got a hit of chlorine in the face from the direction of the chlorine room which housed 1-ton chlorine cylinders,” she said.

Puckett said units from stations 1 and 11, rescue 10 and members of the haz-mat team responded to the mutual aid call.

Henry County fire Capt. Jonathan Burnette, who is a member of the haz-mat team, was one of the first on scene responding with Butts County Fire. Burnette established command and began with the gathering of vital information for the team from the plant manager.

HCFD Operations Chief Brad Johnson and Battalion Chief Tom Gardner also arrived at the plant. Gardner, working with Butts County Fire, set up the command post while Burnette moved to operations. Responders established zones, set up a decontamination area, formulated a plan of attack and hazard mitigation ensued, said Puckett.

“Teams in suits made entry with monitors to check chlorine levels within the structure,” she said. “Although levels detected were low, appropriate precautions were followed. The structure was ventilated and air quality was verified before personnel were allowed to return. No further leaks were detected. No injuries were reported.”

Puckett said the incident is a good example of how mutual aid response calls are supposed to work.

“A potentially very dangerous situation was safely mitigated through interdepartmental cooperation and actions of highly trained responders,” she said.