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Energy and Environment

Plume of Chemicals Causes Thousands To Evacuate In Atchison

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Image from the National Weather Service in Kansas City
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The path of the plume of gasses.

Thousands of people were evacuated from Atchison Friday morning after a chemical cloud erupted from a nearby factory. The plume of gasses came from MGP Ingredients, which distills alcohol and produces other food ingredients.

Atchison City Manager Trey Cocking says the situation was caused by a chemical reaction.

"At 8:02 this morning, two chemicals were inadvertently mixed with each other at MGP by their sewer plant. That caused a gaseous plume to develop. That plume covered good portions of the city of Atchison,” Cocking says.

Officials say a chemical was inadvertently put into the wrong storage tank, causing it to mix with another chemical. That caused the reaction and the plume of gasses.

“Atchison fire officials, working with company officials, found out exactly what they needed to do to treat it, put a foam substance on it to treat it. That’s what they’ve been doing to mitigate it,” Cocking says.

Cocking says at least 18 people were treated for minor injuries related to inhaling the gasses. He says some schools and Benedictine College were evacuated. The city gave the all-clear around 11 a.m.