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Insecticide barrels rupture, cause widespread odor

CORDELE, Ga. — An inadvertent release of a chemical pesticide at a Crisp County chemical manufacturer was behind a pungent odor that wafted through several counties early Wednesday morning.

Georgia Emergency Management officials say that two dozen 55-gallon drums containing an insecticide ruptured, some exploded, early Wednesday morning at Drexel Chemical Company. Low cloud cover kept a minor chemical cloud in the area, exposing several counties to a strong odor.

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At least four people were hospitalized, Ken Davis, a GEMA spokesperson, said.

Crisp County Fire Chief Ray Lunsford said that his units responded to Drexel Chemical around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“We were on scene from about 1:45 in the morning until about 4:06,” Lunsford said. “We’ve spoken with a (Georgia Emergency Management Agency) representative and have notified the local hospitals. Right now the odor or chemical could cause some issues for people with respiratory problems but mostly its just a nuisance.”

People with respiratory problems are advised to avoid prolonged time outdoors if you can smell the odor.

Carolyn Maschke, a spokesperson with the Southwest Georgia Department of Community Health, said that the district’s emergency preparedness director has been in touch with GEMA and, based on the information provided, officials didn’t believe there was any reason to issue a public health alert.

“At this time, based on what we generally know about the chemicals involved, we don’t believe that this is a public health concern,” Maschke said.

Low-lying clouds kept the chemical odor entrenched in Southwest Georgia for much of the morning, with reports of the odor coming in from as far as Tifton and Blakely. By late afternoon, the plume had moved into southern Alabama.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division said that the chemical dispersed was Dimethoate, an organophosphate insecticide used to attack the central nervous system of insects for agricultural purposes.

According to its pesticide profile on Cornell University’s website, the chemical can cause health problems for humans if administered in certain quantity. Public health officials believe that the amount that was released Wednesday morning wasn’t enough to cause widespread health concerns.

“Dimethoate is an insecticide used to kill mites and insects systemically and on contact. It is used against a wide range of insects, including aphids, thrips, planthoppers and whiteflies on ornamental plants, alfalfa, apples, corn, cotton, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, melons, oranges, pears, pecans, safflower, sorghum, soybeans, tangerines, tobacco, tomatoes, watermelons, wheat and other vegetables. It is also used as a residual wall spray in farm buildings for house flies. Dimethoate has been administered to livestock for control of botflies. Dimethoate is available in aerosol spray, dust, emulsifiable concentrate, and ULV concentrate formulations (2, 3),” the profile states.

Kevin Chambers, a spokesperson for EPD, said that agency officials were working with officials on site to oversee the cleanup of the chemical.

“It’s described as a mild irritant that can irritate the eyes, nose and mouth,” Chambers said.

Chambers said that it appeared that the company had been trying to turn the chemical from a cold, solid state into its natural liquid form by heating it up in a hot liquid bath. When the liquid bath got too hot, the barrels ruptured.

Comments

waltspecht 1 year, 7 months ago

I thought it was a skunk when I first smelled it at 4 AM by the Cookville Rd, but it went all the way to Dawson. I thought I had a skunk hung up in my trucks running gear until I met others complaining about the same thing from completely different areas.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

The EPA needs to check out that Equinox place down here on the south side of Albany. That smell would gag a maggot.

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angrypatient 1 year, 7 months ago

What type of chemical is this? We have the right to know and need a lot more information to protect our children. Apart from all the funny comments, I bed you won't be laughing if you find out it causes cancer.

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Engineer 1 year, 7 months ago

"industrial strength solvent" What chemical was it?

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ustaknow 1 year, 7 months ago

Reports of the smell from Auburn Alabama coming in. This smells nauseating. maybe they can spray some febreeze in the air

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Nous_Defions 1 year, 7 months ago

Here is a list of chemicals stored and sold from the Drexel Plant in Cordele:

link text

Some of those I suspect are nerve agents as Atropine is the suggested antidote according to the MSDS posted on Drexel's. Anyone who was in the military in the 50-70's knows this, right Walt? The smell is from a chemical added. This is so anyone can identify a release because nerve agents usually have no smell. Really this could be serious, avoid this by staying inside until Gov. officials give an all clear.

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waltspecht 1 year, 7 months ago

NBC warefare training, I remember it well. Especially that syringe and tube.

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Albanite 1 year, 7 months ago

It smells like a large pot harvest.

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dannysangel09 1 year, 7 months ago

Fox says it is Dimethoate Technical. And the MSDS info can be found on Drexel Chemical website http://www.drexchem.com/

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Phinizy3 1 year, 7 months ago

I started feeling 'light-headed' a couple of hours ago and that is very unusual for me! We, the public, need to know immediately exactly what chemicals were released and exactly what risks to humans and wildlife are associated with the accidental release. I am sure that Drexel will try to minimize the potential financial damage to the company. So far, all I here is a bunch of non-specific BS.

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Cartman 1 year, 7 months ago

I thought the Polecats were back in town.

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Nous_Defions 1 year, 7 months ago

I would hope that The Herald staff has been in contact with GEMA so we can know what chemical(s) were actually released.

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holmes1111 1 year, 7 months ago

Smelt in Abbeville, AL this morning...really Strong!!!

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medicH18 1 year, 7 months ago

The smell is pretty bad in Headland, Abbeville and Dothan Alabama. Wow what a cloud! We would really like to know what chemical was released.

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Nous_Defions 1 year, 7 months ago

This is the link to the actual Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) link text

It is a "Nerve Agent" and Atropine is the antidote. Does GEMA know what the concentration levels were at or near the site?

Health Risks here link text

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scarter 1 year, 7 months ago

I would like to know if there are any recommendations for schools with asthmatic children and staff.

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J.D._Sumner 1 year, 7 months ago

EPD says that it should dissipate and move out of the area by late afternoon. If students have asthma issues I would assume that you would treat this like a bad pollen or allergy day, keep the inhalers close.

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Dwill67 1 year, 7 months ago

We are 3 1/2 hours away in Enterprise, AL and it was an awfully strong smell here. I can only imagine what Cordele has to smell like. Hard to believe that a spill of this size that traveled so far is nothing to worry about. It's insecticide and full of toxins I am sure.

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Dwill67 1 year, 7 months ago

We are 3 1/2 hours away in Enterprise, AL and it was an awfully strong smell here. I can only imagine what Cordele has to smell like. Hard to believe that a spill of this size that traveled so far is nothing to worry about. It's insecticide which would have to be full of toxins I am sure.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

Now, while the EPA is in town, could they please come on down here to the South Side and check out them Equinox nauseating emissions, please!!

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