Omya: 500 pounds of spilled powder not harmful to humans

By Cristina Kumka
STAFF WRITER - Published: October 11, 2010

FLORENCE — About 500 pounds of powdered calcium carbonate became airborne after spilling out of the Omya Inc. plant in Florence early Sunday morning.

The fine powder, used in making plastic products such as vinyl siding, was a finished product and mixed with other elements. but does not pose a risk to human health or the environment, said Linda Pleiman, communications manager for Omya.

Cleanup efforts were under way Sunday and would continue today, Pleiman said.

The spill occurred at 6 a.m. when a rotary valve on a silo that contained the product Omyacarb FT malfunctioned and the product spilled out, according to Omya.

The majority of the calcium product was contained inside the plant, but about 500 pounds spilled out a door at the plant and the wind blew it into the environment, Pleiman said.

At the time of the spill, four employees were working at the plant.

The spill, however, had nothing to do with human error, according to Omya.

“We cleaned up any product in the area where we could before dark,” Pleiman said. “Any product on any water will stay on the surface and the company will continue tomorrow.”

There were no injuries reported from the airborne product and state and local officials were notified, according to Omya.

The silo was closed down, the leak was fixed and normal production resumed Sunday, Pleiman said.

The last spill occurred at the plant in April of last year, Pleiman said.

According to Omya, the company will conduct a thorough review of the incident and communicate all results of that review to local officials as soon as it is complete.