25 people were injured in a chemical accident in Konstanz. They suffered respiratory irritation the morning after inhaling a chemical and were taken to hospital with minor injuries. The employees of a company in the food industry discovered corrosive and fuming gas, a police spokeswoman said upon request. The gas came out of a container stored in the basement. According to a fire department spokesman, the situation was “life-threatening.” But an employee of the company acted quickly and did the right thing.
The man wore full protection and took the container out of the building with a forklift. There the escaping gas was able to evaporate in the air and no longer cause any damage. There was no danger to residents or the environment. The man remained unhurt.
Mixture of nitric acid and horolith
According to the police spokeswoman, two chemicals were mixed together in a 1,000 liter container at the company on Thursday to produce a cleaning agent for boilers. The company produces fruit preparation solutions for the food and beverage industry. According to initial findings, the substances were 53 percent nitric acid and horolith (cleaning agents).
For reasons that are still unknown, a temperature increase and a chemical reaction reportedly occurred, causing highly toxic nitrous gases to escape and spread throughout the building. "The substances reacted violently with each other," explained the fire department spokesman, "as a result of which corrosive gases escaped into the basement, which led to injuries to the respiratory tract."
"The situation was life-threatening"
The fumes could have burned the employees' lungs if the container had not been taken out into the fresh air. “The situation was life-threatening,” said the fire department spokesman.
A special company had to be called in to recover and dispose of the materials from the container, which was still on its way in the early afternoon. The fire department prepared to pump the chemical mixture into another 1,000 liter container. In the second container there is a solvent that will dilute the mixture and thus render it harmless.