Two hospitalized in hazmat incident at Middletown water treatment plant

MIDDLETOWN, OH (FOX19) - A hazmat incident at Middletown's water treatment plant landed two employees in the hospital Thursday afternoon.

The workers became overcome by a leaking substance at the Columbia Avenue facility around 1 p.m., according to Middletown spokesperson Shelby Quinlivan.

A rotary valve failed, exposing the workers to calcium hydroxide, also known as slaked lime, Quinlivan said.

The leak has been stopped and poses no danger to the city's drinking water supply.

"There was no danger ever of any problem with the city's water supply, drinking water, water for any other use. The area where the leak occurred was in a confined part of the building, it had to do with the water softening process, nothing with the distribution line. Everything has been contained," Middletown Fire Chief Paul Lolli said.

The men were conscious and breathing when medics transported the pair to Atrium Medical Center.

Lolli said the men may have suffered potential burns to the backs of their necks, arms, and legs when an estimated 400 tons of that lime calcium oxide came out.

"They had dried powder that was on their bodies and had also come into contact with water and water and lime doesn't mix very well, it will cause significant burns to the body," he said.

The lime is used in water softening and is stored in a bulk storage tank.

The Center for Disease Control lists lime as a chemical hazard. It is a white, odorless powder that can irritate the respiratory tract and is corrosive to the eyes and the skin.

The Ohio EPA responded to the scene along with several local fire agencies.

Officials said cleanup will take several hours.

The condition of the victims is not known at this time.

Copyright 2018 WXIX. All rights reserved.