DALTON, Ga. — A malfunction at a Whitfield County chemical plant formed a vapor cloud that prompted the evacuation of several hundred people in the area Monday night.
Workers at MFG Chemical Inc., which produces coatings and other substances for the textile industry, were mixing chemicals about 9:30 p.m., when the reactor malfunctioned and formed the cloud that engulfed the nearby area, said Dalton police spokesman Chris Crossen.
The chemical, allyl alcohol, is commonly used as a starting material in making various polymers, pharmaceuticals and pesticides.
Hundreds of residents and workers from at least five other factories within a half-mile radius of the plant were evacuated, Crossen said. The local Red Cross set up a shelter at a church for those who didn’t have a place to go for the night.
About 100 people, including some police officers and firefighters, were treated for minor symptoms, including burning sensations in the eyes and irritation in the throat, but no serious health problems were reported, he added.
Residents and workers still were not allowed back in the area today. Authorities said they were waiting for the reactor that malfunctioned to cool down before cleanup could even begin.
“They’re monitoring the situation right now. We’re taking readings every hour and the readings are getting better,” said Battalion Chief Larry Warren of the Dalton Fire Department.
Officials at MFG Chemical could not be reached for comment today.
The cause of the malfunction is under investigation