Release of Chlorine Gas Prompts Prudential Plant Evacuation

Bruce Beggs |

VISTA, Calif. — Prudential Overall Supply evacuated its industrial laundry here Friday morning when a combination of sulfuric acid and bleach produced fumes that caused respiratory problems for some employees.
Maintenance work was under way on the washroom floor when the incident occurred around 7 a.m.
“Washing machine lines were flushed with sulfuric acid, which entered the wash system,” a company statement reads. “Our chemical adviser advised us to flush the lines with water and we did so. When the water system was brought back online and primed with bleach, the sulfuric acid and the bleach made contact and produced fumes upon entering the wash system discharge trench.”
The general manager ordered the suburban San Diego plant evacuated and contacted the local fire department. Two production employees working in the washroom area — a folder and a supply clerk — suffered respiratory problems and were immediately taken to Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside. Both were treated and released.
Firefighters upon arrival asked if other employees wished to receive medical attention and 18 were then taken to one of four area hospitals. All patients were treated and released.
There was no chemical spill, says Jerry Martin, Prudential’s vice president of sales and marketing who’s headquartered in Irvine, Calif. “Protocol was not followed as it traditionally had been followed.”
Hazardous-materials safety personnel cleared the plant to reopen shortly before 11:30 a.m. “We were operational the same day,” Martin says.
Prudential Overall Supply will continue to work with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety (HAZMAT) in investigating details of the incident and “will revise its maintenance procedures as needed to ensure that such an incident does not occur again,” the company says.
Martin says the company is re-examining its use of sulfuric acid in this maintenance work for possible alternatives.
Prudential Overall Supply is celebrating its 75th anniversary in industrial and business uniform rental and laundry services. Headquartered in Irvine, it has 34 total locations, including its industrial laundries and cleanroom garment processing and distribution centers.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.


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