Durham County

Yellow smoke sightings prompt evacuation from Durham chemical plant. What happened?

Employees of the Brenntag South chemical plant on East Pettigrew Street near downtown Durham wait for the all clear to go back to work after a chemical reaction forced the plant to evacuate Friday, Sept. 8.
Employees of the Brenntag South chemical plant on East Pettigrew Street near downtown Durham wait for the all clear to go back to work after a chemical reaction forced the plant to evacuate Friday, Sept. 8. vbridges@heraldsun.com

Emergency crews responded Friday morning to reports of a potential hazardous materials incident near a chemical plant on East Pettigrew Street near downtown.

Employees of the Brenntag Southeast plan at 2000 E. Pettigrew St. were transferring about 20 gallons of nitric acid between containers when some sort of residue triggered a reaction, Durham’s Deputy Fire Chief Christopher Iannuzzi and Fire Marshal Jim Groves said.

Iannuzzi did not know what type of chemicals were involved.

Brenntag is a global supplier of more than 10,000 ingredients and chemicals used in a full line of products from personal care items to the pharmaceuticals and industrial, mining, and oil and gas industries. The German company has more than 550 locations in 74 countries.

Initial reports were that yellow smoke was seen coming from the building. Iannuzzi could not confirm those reports but said employees were evacuated as a precaution. Roughly 20 employees could be seen standing outside the plant.

The company handled the response, he said, diluting the chemicals with water to limit the effect. Hazardous materials crews dispatched to the scene were kept on standby as a precaution, he said. Iannuzzi was not aware of any injuries.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

  Comments