MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Maquoketa firefighters and seven technicians from the Davenport Haz-Mat team spent nearly five hours investigating a chemical situation at a factory.
The incident happened 8:35 a.m. Thursday at Melling Cylinder Sleeve Co. in the Timber City Industrial Park. Firefighters were told a lid blew off a barrel of an unknown product and the barrel was smoking.
Fire Chief Mark Beck said because the substance was unknown, the Haz-Mat team was called. He said Plastics Unlimited of Preston had stored material at the site after a fire three or four months ago, waiting for an insurance settlement.
When firefighters arrived, there was a strong chemical odor. Lyn Medinger, Jackson County Emergency Management coordinator, said the factories surrounding Melling were asked to keep their employees inside and close their doors. He said the chemical, which has not been identified, could cause minor skin and lung irritation.
Beck said personnel from Plastics Unlimited moved the smoking barrel outside with a fork truck. They told the fire chief they thought the product was a catalyst used in their process at their factory in Preston.
“Crews were able to minimize the hazard with absorbent material and the area was cleaned after approximately 4.5 hours,” Beck said.
He said Plastics Unlimited will be responsible for cleanup of all the material and the storage area, which must be done by a certified hazardous cleanup contractor.
There were 19 firefighters, along with Maquoketa Ambulance crews at the site and Maquoketa Police and Jackson County sheriff’s deputies cordoned off the area for the morning.