NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston fire crews have contained a phosphorous leak at the Lanxess chemical plant on the King Street extension which caused a brief shelter-in-place order for residents in the area Wednesday morning.
Just after 12:20 a.m., the department received a call for a fire alarm at the plant. When crews arrived on scene, Lanxess personnel advised there was a phosphorous leak that had caused a fire.
The fire was put out by a sprinkler system but briefly reignited which crews then put out again. The fire combined with the phosphorous leak caused a large plume of smoke. When the wind shifted around 1:15 a.m., Charleston fire officials put out a reverse 911 call to residents in the area telling them to secure their windows and doors. The order was lifted around 3:35 a.m.
I-26 was also shut down for a short period of time.
Lanxess plant manager Jean-Francois Berthiaume said no employees were injured and there is no concern about long-term impact. The site will remain closed until Monday and the company will be in charge of cleanup.
He added larger quantities of phosphorous can act as an irritant to the eyes and lungs. There was also a chlorine release at the site back in May.
Charleston fire department spokesman Mike Julezadeh said the site will be handed over to investigators with the Department of Environmental Control. Coast Guard officials will also be brought in to investigate any potential impacts to the Ashley River.
“DHEC staff were onsite this morning, and we don’t expect there to be any lingering effects from the release of phosphorus into the air,” a department spokesman said. “The department will continue to work with the facility to address any remediation issues. In these types of incidents, DHEC’s role is to provide support to local responders/incident command and to ensure any discharge to the environment is properly remediated.”