Leaking chemical barrel poses no threat

Sunday, March 7, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:08 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

A block of Locust Street between Eighth and Ninth streets was closed for more than two hours Friday while Columbia firefighters and hazardous material workers plugged a leaky barrel in the back of a pickup truck.

Shortly before noon, a barrel, labeled “Health Hazard,” was discovered in the vehicle by a Columbia city employee. The worker, who noticed something leaking from the rear of the green Chevrolet pickup, called 911. Columbia firefighters and a hazardous materials response unit arrived to stop the leak and clean up a small spill with absorbent pads, said Lt. Amy Barrett, assistant fire marshal.

Barrett said the chemical, “Vora Star,” a resin usually mixed with others chemicals to produce a spray-on adhesive for truck-bed liners, was not in the city’s hazardous materials database because it was a brand name and a blend of various materials.

Barrett said the standard 55-gallon barrel was picked up from Schilby’s Tires & Wheels, 1208 E. Business Loop 70, by an employee of Otis Elevator Company, who wanted to use the barrel to store work materials in. Barrett said he was unaware that there was potentially hazardous material in it.

The barrel had been stored on a loading dock where it gathered rain water. The material leaking out of the barrel was a mixture of water and polyol amine blend, she said.

Polyol amine blends are used in making polyurethane foam, which is used for largely construction purposes, according to the Dow Chemical Web site. Barrett said a data sheet provided by Schilby’s Tires said prolonged or repeated exposure may cause significant skin irritation, and a single exposure is not likely to be hazardous.

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