News Briefs: Lime Dust Explosion Injures Two Operators in Kansas City

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, a hazardous chemical reaction results in the evacuation of a wastewater plant in San Francisco; and a computer malfunction in Vermont causes a 3-million-gallon spill into Lake Champlain

A lime dust explosion at a Kansas City water treatment plant injured two workers July 15. The workers reportedly had chemical burns and were rushed to a local hospital.

The employees were working with an overloaded lime slaker and the material contacted water, creating a lime slurry that burned the workers.

One of the employees was released from the hospital after a short time, and the other stayed in the hospital a few days.

“Safety is a part of KC Water’s culture and all accidents are taken very seriously,” said the municipal water company in a statement reprinted by local television news station KSHB. “The accident will be reviewed to avoid such occurrences in the future. We are grateful the situation wasn’t worse and we will support our employees and their families as they recover.”

Residents in San Francisco were warned to steer clear of Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Plant recently after a hazardous chemical reaction was reported.

Authorities from the local fire department reported a hazmat response team was dealing with the chemical issue and that the building had been evacuated.

The city’s Public Utilities Commission spokesperson says staff at the plant contacted the fire department as a precautionary measure. “The situation is contained at this time and we’re evaluating the cause of initial reaction,” he told the San Francisco Examiner.

A water treatment operator from Beulah, Colorado, is telling KOAA News there’s a high demand for treatment plant operators in his state.

Facing a similar issue to treatment plants across the country, the operator, David Stanford, is saying there’s a lot of openings due to older operators retiring. But he’s also warning candidates that they can’t simply walk in and get hired. “It does take a lot of learning, a lot of certification, a lot of on the job training. You have to know and understand every facet of how to get the water here, get it through the plant, and get it to the customer.”

City officials are saying a 3-million-gallon spill of partially treated stormwater and wastewater into Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont, was due to a computer malfunction.

The city’s public works director says no one was at the plant when the spill occurred due to the overall dependability of the automated system.

“This plant is able and designed to run without staff during off peak times,” he told My Champlain Valley. “For decades, this plant has operated without staffing reliably and dependably. Until these last two equipment failures there was no indication that this plant was reaching end of life.”

After recent issues at the plant, local residents are worried about the health of their most valued natural resource in Lake Champlain.


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