Chemical Spill In Atchison Prompts Evacuations And Warnings

Oct 21, 2016

Update 11:35 a.m. Friday.

Atchison officials have issued the all clear, saying it's safe to go outside after a chemical cloud enveloped the city this morning.

Atchison City Manager Trey Cocking says at 8:02 a.m. Monday two chemicals were "inadvertently mixed" at the MGP Ingredients plant causing a gaseous plume. 

Cocking says HAZMAT protocols were immediately followed. "They put a foam substance on it to treat it, and that's what they've been doing to mitigate it," Cocking says.

There is no word yet on which two chemicals were mixed or the exact makeup of gaseous cloud. Residents however reported smelling chlorine.

Cocking says 18 people were treated for respiratory discomfort, including five city employees. Anyone with a difficult time breathing is being encouraged to seek medical treatment.

Updated 10:30 a.m. Friday. 

Atchison city officials say a chemical fog around the downtown area has mostly lifted and that the "situation is improving."  A press conference is scheduled for later this morning. 

An apparent chemical spill Friday in Atchison prompted city leaders to warn residents to stay indoors, close all windows and turn off their furnaces and air conditioners. 

A milky fog wafted over parts of the downtown area, captured by several users on Twitter. 

On the city's Facebook page, residents who were near Atchison's downtown were told to seek shelter at either the Atchison Events Center or at a local Wal-Mart.

The Atchison Globe also reports Atchison Public Schools have been evacuated or are being ordered to shelter in place. Classes at Benedectine College were also canceled Friday.  

City officials say the chemical leak's source is MGP, an Atchison-based distiller and maker of other wheat-based food ingredients. The company's website says it has more than 300 employees and opened in 1941.

Kyle Palmer is KCUR's morning newscaster. You can follow him on Twitter @kcurkyle