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Acid spill sparks evacuations in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City police, fire and hazmat crews respond to a nitric acid spill.

SALT LAKE CITY – Fire crews and OSHA will likely investigate the site of an acid spill, where 500 gallons of nitric acid powder spilled underground.

Salt Lake City Fire Department Spokesperson Audra Sorensen says the spill was contained quickly, but some of it got into the storm drain.  She says if this kind of powder gets wet, it can create a vapor that can make people sick.  She says, “It’s real corrosive and it has a pungent acidic smell.  So, where there’s

She says, “It’s real corrosive and it has a pungent acidic smell.  So, where there’s wind and it picks up [that vapor], you can get that toxicity downwind.”

The spill happened at the Univar building, and employees were evacuated.  No one was injured.  Traffic on 800 South was blocked for several blocks in both directions in what Sorensen calls an overabundance of precaution.  “We wanted to ensure that there was absolutely no wind pick-up.  That’s always unpredictable,” Sorensen says.

“We wanted to ensure that there was absolutely no wind pick-up.  That’s always unpredictable,” Sorensen says.

Crews don’t yet know why the spill happened.  Sorensen says their department will investigate, as will OSHA and other organizations.

“The health department, the fire department and EnviroCare will discuss it.  They’ll have different expertise in different ways.  Then, we’ll try to figure it out and, most importantly, try to figure it out so it doesn’t happen again.”