Quebec Explosion at Chemical Plant : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Mon Jul 17, 6:05 am

Evacuation order called off

An evacuation order has been lifted after an explosion at a chemical plant in Vaudreuil, Quebec. The blast and the resulting blanket of toxic smoke prompted officials to evacuate thousands of people from the area last night. The plant is thought to contain up to 50,000 litres of toxic materials. The surrounding environment was tested throughout the night and no serious damage was reported so most residents were told they could return home earlier this morning. Police say, though, that a few hundred people from a specific neighbourhood are still being kept away. There's no word on what cased the blast. No injuries have been reported.

-- Rachel Gibson (, July 17, 2000



Monday July 17 2:44 AM ET

Thousands Flee Fumes From Montreal Acid Fire

By Robert Melnbardis

MONTREAL (Reuters) - More than 3,000 people were asked to leave their homes in a Montreal suburb after a spectacular fire at an acid plant sent noxious fumes over a wide area west of the municipality of Vaudreuil-Dorion, authorities said on Monday.

Authorities said at least 3,000 people were being evacuated in nearby St. Lazare, about 40 miles (65 km) west of Montreal, and the number of evacuees could do as high as 7,000.

The blaze itself was in an acid-transformation plant, Produits Chimiques Regent (Regent Chemical Products), in adjacent Vaudreuil-Dorion, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Montreal.

``No one has been hospitalized, no one has been taken ill,'' Vaudreuil-Doriion Mayor Rejean Boyer told Reuters early on Monday.

Boyer said the community was prepared to accommodate up to 4,000 evacuees, but by early morning, only 300 had sought refuge in one of the town's shelters.

Vaudreuil-Dorion Fire-Chief Harold Harvey told reporters at the scene that there was no immediate indication anyone had been injured in the blaze, which was under investigation. He said the plant was believed to contain 13,200 U.S. gallons (50,000 litres) of acids, including nitric and phosphoric acid, and ammonia.

Authorities said the plant was closed when the fire broke out following an explosion on Sunday night.

Firefighters held back from dousing the fire with water for fear of overfilling special containment areas inside the plant compound and contaminating nearby creeks and the local sewer system, Harvey said.

``We couldn't get our lines in as there were explosions,'' he said as bright orange flames and sparks soared into the night sky. ``We are waiting for the fire to diminish.''

Harvey added that firefighters likely would wait several hours before attacking the blaze, which he noted could take up to a day to extinguish.

Authorities began trucking earth and sand to the site to prepare for any spill of acid-contaminated water. They also planned to use truckloads of lime to neutralize any spilled acid.

St. Lazare Mayor Bertrand Myre told the LCN television news network that residents were asked to leave their homes to avoid the noxious fumes fanning over the municipality.

``There is a strong odor from the smoke and we are encouraging people to leave their homes,'' he said.

Residents of Vaudreuil-Dorion and St. Lazare west of the plant complained of a strong odor that caused symptoms such as burning in the throat, nose and eyes. Meteorologists said a thermal inversion of warmer air over cooler air was preventing the smoke and fumes from quickly dissipating into the atmosphere.

Several neighboring municipalities responded to the fire call with tanker trucks as water to fight the blaze had to be brought in. That also hampered firefighters' ability to tackle the blaze immediately, Harvey said.

St. Lazare is a bedroom community west of Montreal also known for horse ranches and expensive country homes.

-- Rachel Gibson (, July 17, 2000.

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