Chemical Explosion in Spain Releases Nitric Acid

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In Igualada, a Spanish city near Barcelona, authorities have ordered civilians to stay indoors due to a recent chemical explosion releasing nitric acid into the air. A truck was set a blaze at a warehouse in the city due to the accidental mixing of different chemicals. The explosion has created a large orange mass of toxic cloud above the city.

A spokeswoman for the local fire department says that two people were injured due to the blast. The Red Cross interfered to help and explained to firefighters that nitric acid as well as ferric chloride had been released into the air, two very toxic chemicals.

The spokeswoman also said that the fire department is urging over 40,000 civilians to stay inside until the cloud clears and all of the city’s water systems are checked. The explosion occurred at a warehouse belonging to a Spanish company called Simar. The company has not yet released any statements about the incident.

Along with official precautions telling people to not go outside, some road and trains have been shut off. Later on Thursday the warning was lifted, however authorities still warned children and elderly people to stay indoors due to the chemical explosion that released nitric acid and other chemicals in the atmosphere above Spain’s Barcelona and surrounding cities. School and university students were on lockdown inside their schools and parents were advised not to pick them up.

It is unclear the exact harmful effects these toxic chemicals may have on the people who were exposed, however officials are deeply concerned with the health and safety of civilians. Chemicals are engulfing the sky over five towns creating large toxic orange clouds. The fog is visible for miles, which further concerns authorities; knowing that even the areas that does not have a view of the cloud may still be affected.

Some emergency management officials are coming out with new statements saying the cloud is more of an irritant rather then a toxic mass. However, six people have already been taken to nearby hospitals after complaining about respiratory problems while three other people, who apparently unloaded the material, reported serious burns. In photos and video footage the cloud has been seen moving from the explosion site, unfortunately in the direction of residential areas.

According to company records, the factory manufactures ammonium nitrate, paraformaldehyde, and methanol. Nitric acid is used in common fertilizes as ammonium nitrate. Every year, thousands of chemical spills, leakages, and explosions are reported. Due to improper storage and handling, chemicals become unstable and have the chance to leak. Not only do these incidents have a large negative effect on the environment, especially in local animal and plant ecosystems, they have been known to cause health problems in individuals even slightly exposed. Side effects like burns and breathing problems are the most common, where cancer, blindness, and neurological disorders are less common.

The chemical explosion in Spain, now effected at least five cities, has released nitric acid and other chemicals. Officials say that the danger is decreasing and their lockdowns are merely for precaution, however it is not certain what real long time side effects may be.

Written by Audrey Madden

Sources:

NBC

Reuters

Huffington Post

Photo by – Kevin Dooley – License

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