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Chlorine leak at sewage plant contained, "O Ring" the culprit

Fire personnel donned Level A protection HazMat suits and entered the building and successfully isolated the chlorine to stop the leak

A faulty "O ring" in a feed system is being blamed for that leak of chlorine gas yesterday that closed Memorial Drive for a couple of hours. The leak was contained within the building and did not pose a threat to the public.

At just after 9 a.m. yesterday North Bay Fire personnel responded to a report of a chlorine leak at the sewage treatment plant on Memorial Drive. 

The roadway was closed to both vehicles and pedestrians.

Greg Saunders, Deputy Fire Chief says, "Upon arrival, we learned that internal sensors in the plant revealed that a small amount of chlorine was present and confined within the structure.  External monitoring of the facility revealed that there was no chlorine in the external atmosphere."

A city spokesperson, Karin Pratte told BayToday that the investigation was wrapped up around 3 p.m. today by on-site staff.

"It's not easy determining it. It takes time because it is chlorine gas and we have to take all the precautions necessary.

"In our chlorine feed system is an O ring that allowed a little bit of gas to escape when we didn't have the carrier water on."

The O ring has been replaced and the system is back on line for the summer season. Replacement O rings are kept on site.

"We feed chlorine gas into our wastewater treatment system in the summer to reduce E coli and we use carrier water, we don't just feed gas through the line. We feed concentrated chlorine gas into the line and it gets mixed with water, and that's how it gets dosed," Pratte explained.

E coli is a type of bacteria that normally live in your intestines and is also found in the gut of some animals. Most types of are harmless but some strains can cause diarrhea if you eat contaminated food or drink fouled water.

Fire personnel donned Level A protection HazMat suits and entered the building and successfully isolated the chlorine to stop the leak. 

North Bay Fire is a part of the Provincial CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological. Nuclear, Explosive) response team. 

"Being a member of this team means that we have the equipment and training necessary to manage HazMat incidents within the City of North Bay," added Saunders. "We are also expected to be available to respond to CBRNE incidents throughout the rest of the province.

"We would like to thank our partners from the North Bay Paramedics, North Bay Police, and engineering staff from the City of North Bay in assisting us in managing this incident."


Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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