2 Companies Fined $1M Each Over Kansas Chemical Leak

Two companies that caused a chlorine gas leak over Atchison, Kansas, in 2106 have each been fined $1 million for violating federal clean air laws.

Harcros Chemicals Inc., and MGP Ingredients Inc., had pleaded guilty to negligently violating the Clean Air Act. The fines, which were expected, have been paid, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said.

On Oct. 21, 2016, a greenish-yellow chlorine gas cloud formed over Atchison when 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid were mistakenly combined with 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite at MGP’s plant.

The noxious cloud covered the city for 45 minutes, prompting evacuation of nearby homes and schools and orders for residents to shelter in place. About 140 people sought medical attention.

Atchison has about 11,000 residents and is about 50 miles (about 80 kilometers) northwest of Kansas City.

The chemical release occurred when a delivery truck driver inadvertently unloaded sulfuric acid into a tank that contained sodium hypochlorite. The chemical reaction produced chlorine gas, which drifted for nearly 6 miles over the Atchison region before dissipating after about four hours, according to findings from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.