After FOX10 News Investigates exposed a dangerous chlorine leak in McIntosh, the city's police department is now getting respirators to safeguard officers from any future hazards.
McIntosh Police Chief Mike Ready said the equipment came in just last week, and officers were promptly trained on how to use the device.
Now, every single police officer in McIntosh will be prepared for the worst.
"If they get caught in the chlorine leak, by not knowing, whatever, this will be one of their tools that they can use to escape the area, and to get to safety," said Ready.
On February 15, Olin Corporation leaked 738 pounds of chlorine gas into the air, which scientists said would be enough to almost fill up a tank car.
The EPA said chlorine gas is poisonous, and exposure to it can cause inflammation of the lungs, difficulty breathing, and even respiratory failure.
One McIntosh police officer said he got sick after responding to the incident.
But now, with the new equipment, Chief Ready said he feels more confident about his officer's safety in the field.
Olin Corporation paid for all of the respirators, plus training for officers on how to use them.
Back in February, right after the leak, neither residents, nor law enforcement, was able to get many answers from the company about what had happened.
FOX10 News investigated the incident, leading to a series of stories exposing the danger.
Chief Ready credited the work of FOX10 News Investigates for the new equipment in his hands.
"I think you're reporting definitely shined a light that it was a big need, and Olin stepped up to give us the equipment we need to have to respond to their facility," Ready said. "Police, we have bullet proof vests, defense mechanisms, but this is one thing we didn't have. One thing that we certainly need with all the chemical companies up here in our city, so, this is going to be a good tool, a good survival tool."
The fire department will receive chlorine gas monitors, also purchased by Olin.
All of this is part of an agreement Olin signed with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) as a repercussion for the February 15 leak.
Plant Manager, Ken Corley, issued the following statement Wednesday:
"In April, we agreed to the proposed consent order with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management that allowed us to implement supplemental environmental projects with the agency’s approval. As part of our commitment to keeping first responders and the community safe, we have provided the McIntosh Police Department with respirators and the McIntosh Fire Department with gas monitors capable of sensing chlorine and training. We are focused on protecting the health and safety of our employees, the community and the environment."
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