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2 injured in Nitro chemical spill

Two workers were injured and transported to a hospital after a nitric acid spill at Catalyst Refiners in Nitro on Saturday afternoon, according to emergency officials.

The workers' conditions are unknown at this time.

The incident occurred just before 3 p.m. at Catalyst Refiners on 1580 1st Ave. South in Nitro.

The Institute Fire Department responded but did not need to enter the facility, which appeared under control, according to Bill Jones with the Institute Fire Department.

Kanawha County medics also responded to the nitric acid leak inside the building but "there was no outside assistance needed," a Kanawha Metro 911 dispatcher said.

The dispatcher also said that there is "no public hazard" posed by the spill.

Scott Schmidt, a Catalyst Refiners spokesman, said they had a small tank failure and approximately 50 gallons of nitric acid spilled. Employees were evacuated and an outside company is working on "neutralizing the material as we speak," Schmidt said.

Schmidt expected clean-up to be done by tomorrow morning.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe nitric acid as a "Colorless, yellow, or red, fuming liquid with an acrid, suffocating odor." It is used in fertilizer and metal cleaners.

Symptoms from breathing nitric acid include chest tightness, choking, coughing up blood, dizziness, rapid pulse, low blood pressure and shortness of breath, according to the National Institute of Health.

The Catalyst Refiners plant recycles used ethylene oxide from area chemical plants back into ethylene oxide catalyst that local plants can use again, according to Gazette archives. Catalyst Refiners and a sister plant in Glens Falls, N.Y., can also return silver used in this recycling to customers as pure silver bars, or in the form of various other products, such as silver nitrate or silver oxide, according to the company's website.

Catalyst Refiners is owned by Ames Goldsmith Corp., which provides silver-based products to a variety of industries.


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