UPDATE 6:45 p.m.: Responders have cleared the scene of the sodium chlorite spill at Magnablend. The evacuation has been lifted.†
UPDATE 5:53 p.m.: Police have reopened the service road of Interstate 35E.†
UPDATE 5:39 p.m.: Statement from Alison Jahn, Director of Communications for Magnablend:
"We are still investigating. We are taking extra precaution to make sure that the area is completely safe before we remove the perimeter. The rest of the facts remain the same. No injuries reported. No exposure. Donít have any information on when we will open up the site. But we will release a media statement once we have the 100 percent all clear. Donít have any indication when that will be just pending the investigation"
UPDATE: 5:26 p.m.: Statement from Andrea Morrew, TCEQ spokeswoman, via email:
"TCEQ DFW Region Emergency Response Staff arrived on-site. Incident Command is Waxahachie Fire Department. They confirmed that a plastic 330-gallon tote containing liquid sodium chlorite was involved. There are a total of 14 totes on-site (one that ruptured, one that is partially damaged), which are being evaluated by TAS Environmental.
EPA has arrived on-site as well. At this time, no air monitoring is being conducted as there is no active off-gassing; however, both TCEQ and EPA are available on-site to monitor as necessary. Questions regarding emergency response and evacuation protocol should be directed to the Waxahachie F.D."
UPDATE 5:19 p.m.: Ricky Boyd, Waxahachie Fire Chief, said there are total of 13 totes, not 12, like initially reported by Magnablend officials. The 10 already checked are not increasing in temperature or seeing any kind of reaction at this time, he said.
Boyd said he is waiting on an official report from Hazmat officials.
"The only thing holding up getting rid of the evacuation is the EPA wants to come in and do a little air monitoring over there," Boyd said. "Then, we have to be good. Right now, the evacuation is still in place until they show up and do that. All 13 of the containers that did not erupt when previously have been checked and they appear to be fine. So we think that all of the hazard is really over with. Other than that, we want to take some air samples to make sure the wind is not hurting anything on the other side where homes and businesses are."
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representatives are on scene and contractors on the way, Boyd said.
"I am hoping in the next 10 or 15 minutes they show up," Boyd said. "Roughly somewhere around 6 p.m., they will be through with their sampling."
UPDATE 4:36 p.m.: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality representatives are onsite, starting their investigation into the sodium chlorite spill, TCEQ spokesperson Andrea Morrew said.
Texas Department of Transportation officials are also on scene. Officials are looking at wind conditions and the wind isn't blowing toward heavily populated areas. If the wind changes direction, that will change responders' plan of action, officials on scene said.
"Northbound frontage roads are closed. Sterrett Road onramp to northbound I-35E is closed," said Ryan LaFontaine, a TxDot spokeswoman said. "The frontage road and the onramp will remain closed until they're cleared by first responders."
At this time, those roads are closed indefinitely, he said.
UPDATE 4:10 p.m.: Officials are going to shut down the I-35E northbound frontage road from Farm-to-Market 387 north to near Red Oak. Avoid the area.
UPDATE 3:38 p.m.: Additional Ellis County Sheriff's Office deputies are headed to the east side of U.S. Highway 77 to notify residents about the spill.
"New information has come up that there are more of these same totes in there that were delivered from the same company," said Randall Potter, Waxahachie assistant fire chief. "We donít know if those were contaminated. They are not sure what caused the malfunction. It is mostly likely that something was accidently mixed in with the chemical, like the tanks they put the stuff in were not washed thoroughly or something. Something caused it to off gas. There were 12 of these things delivered at the same time. So we are not sure if the rest of them are going to do it until the Hazmat company comes and makes sure we are all good we are going to expand the zone."
At this time, no schools in the area are evacuating, Potter said.
"With the new information that is why we decided to expand the evaction zone until the hazmat crew gets here and checks it out. There are 11 more of these containers," Potter said.
UPDATE 3:19 p.m.: Police are expanding their evacuation zone, which includes shutting down the railroad near the Magnablend facility. People on scene have been asked to move back at half a mile. Police have said only the service road is shut down at this time.
"This happened in a span of about 30 minutes ago," said Alison Jahn, Magnablend's Director of Communications. "The investigation is just starting. What we know is that a tote, which is a plastic container, that contained liquid sodium chlorite, which is a form of salt, it was showing signs after it was offloaded from a truck.
"What happened is the signs of reaction caused a rupture caused a boom, which is what you may have heard some people taking about a boom or explosion. It wasnít an explosion because nothing leaked. It was a rupture from a cracked tote. What happened from there, we notified and evacuated the 70 people in the plant as well as the neighboring community. There was also a business. The fire department was called to secure the perimeter Currently, a hazmat crew is the way out to do an investigation and secure perimeter so that our employees can come back in.
The other thing that I can tell you is that no one was exposed. There are no signs of exposure. No one has send us any complaints of any type of exposure. So right now we are waiting on the hazmat crew to come in and give us a little more detail."
The tote weighs about 300 gallons and is made of plastic.
When it was sitting, waiting to be moved it showed signs of reaction. The tote was not undergoing a mix or a blend. There are two buildings and 70 people work in between those.
"Because the incident happened in one we moved everyone over to the other."
UPDATE 2:54 p.m.: "We went ahead and evacuated those houses just as a precaution. Downwind of it, there is not really anything that affects it down wind right now," said Randall Potter, Waxahachie Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief. "The Magnablend company is calling in a hazmat company to go in there and secure this container that realized. That is where we are right now.Ē
The product is blowing north with the wind blowing from a south, southeasterly direction. It is dissipating so well it is not like a cloud going over the freeway or anything like that, Potter said.
Potter added that all 70 employees and residents have made it out safe and there are zero injures. The sodium chlorite rupture happened approximately 40 feet inside building.
UPDATE 2:50 p.m.: Police onsite at the scene's command center confirm no explosion. The incident involves a ruptured line of sodium chlorite.
UPDATE 2:45 p.m.: Police are saying the situation is believed to be stable. One residence was evacuated. Officials on scene have determined the chemical is sodium chlorite, according to Ron Turbeville, a Waxahachie police officer said. Paramedics are on site as a precaution.
BREAKING 2:15 p.m.: Employees are evacuating a Magnablend facility on Sterrett Road and Interstate 35E because of a possible sodium choride spill. Initials/unconfirmed reports are residents near the facility are also being evacuated because the wind is blowing the fumes toward residences' homes.
ďI donít know what the product was but they have had a product release out here. It formed a vapor cloud. The police department has the traffic shut off to the road here. We have a command post set up. Our units have evacuated some of the houses,Ē Potter said.
Avoid the area if you can. Police are shutting down the service road on I-35E and part of U.S. 77 on the other side of the facility.
Details to follow.