About 1,000 gallons of chemicals, including sulfuric acid and isoproponal, leaked from a Union Carbide Corp. plant in nearby South Charleston tonight, two days after a leak of the chemical aldicarb oxime at a Carbide facility here sickened 142 people.
There were reports of nausea, eye irritation and dizziness from tonight's incident. One woman was treated for eye and throat irritation and released from a hospital.
Officials at the South Charleston plant said the isoproponal, a nontoxic liquid solvent, leaked from a ruptured disk in a storage tank and spilled into the Kanawha River. "It's nonthreatening to the community," company spokesman Mike Lipscomb said. "We've got it under control."
Lipscomb said the chemicals that spilled into the river tonight included "Ucon," a hydraulic brake fluid, isopropanol, a solvent, and sulfuric acid, United Press International reported. He said isopropanol and sulfuric acid were used in brake-fluid manufacturing.
Lipscomb said the unit was shut down immediately and would remain closed pending a company investigation.
"We have been advised that it's highly odorous -- a real stinky smell -- but it's not toxic," Charleston Mayor Mike Roark said. "We're not dealing with the same problem that we had on Sunday."
In the aftermath of Sunday's incident, Union Carbide said today it will stop manufacturing the pesticide aldicarb at Institute while plant officials investigate the leak and the 20-minute delay in reporting it.
Company officials said today that the plant's computerized safety system was never programmed to track aldicarb oxime, an aldicarb ingredient. As a result, the tracking system erroneously told workers that the leak was contained over the Institute plant site. The company has blamed the tracking system for the delay in reporting the leak to local authorities.
"I am sure if we had used the system correctly, it would have worked better," Carbide spokesman Thad Epps said. "We substituted a chemical with close to the same components. We got reasonably good programming."
In Sunday's leak, a 500-gallon storage tank of aldicarb oxime overheated, bursting three gaskets and releasing a toxic cloud, Epps said.
Union Carbide chairman Warren M. Anderson called for an investigation of the leak by the company's health and safety committee. Related story, Page F1.
After touring the Institute plant today, representatives of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency said they hope that further review will explain Sunday's leak.
"I'm very concerned about the kinds of things I've heard about response time and notification problems," said EPA Administrator Lee M. Thomas.
Rep. Robert E. Wise Jr. (D-W.Va.) and his staff surveyed 207 households Monday night in a door-to-door canvass of the area near the plant and found that more than half of the residents said they learned of the leak by smelling the chemical or seeing the cloud.
Thirteen people suffering from exposure to aldicarb oxime remained in area hospitals today. One was a Union Carbide employe listed in satisfactory condition.
Epps said today that, according to company physicians and test data on aldicarb oxime, residents should not suffer any "residual effects from exposure" to the gas.
State and federal health officials agreed that residents face no long-term health risks but urged people living near the plant not to eat vegetables from their gardens until "wipe samples" determine where the substance settled.
Dr. David Heydinger of the West Virginia Department of Health said he will track the medical progress of the 136 residents and six employes treated at local hospitals.
Epps said today that while aldicarb oxime is in the highest category of the company's four-point scale of potential health hazards -- the same category as the deadly methyl isocyanate (MIC) that leaked from the company's Bhopal, India, plant in December, killing more than 2,000 people -- it is one-tenth as toxic as MIC. Aldicarb oxime is mixed with MIC to make aldicarb.
Carl Beard, director of West Virginia's Air Pollution Control Commission, said he was told immediately after the leak that the substance was rated No. 1, the lowest level of toxicity.
"I'm not sure what Beard was told. I thought I mentioned to him at one point that the toxicity of aldicarb oxime was orders of magnitude less than that of MIC," Epps said today. "But I've told a lot of people a lot of things in the last few days; I may be in error."
Residents and local officials today criticized the delay between the leak and notification of the Kanawha County emergency services staff.
"Many persons a mile away never heard any warning. Others were confused by the siren signals," Wise wrote to the Kanawha Valley's Emergency Planning Council.
"I don't think we can say we're satisfied," Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) said. "Why were the emergency procedures delayed? What can be done to prevent this in the future?"