Chemical Leak In East Point, Georgia Prompts Evacuation

EAST POINT, Ga. (AP) -- A chemical leak Wednesday night prompted the evacuation of residents near an industrial park in East Point, just outside Atlanta.

The leak kept emergency workers busy into Thursday morning.

A 5,000 gallon tank containing a chemical sprung a leak, releasing a vapor into the air, according to early reports.

About 40 streets in a radius more than a mile around the area were closed, creating a potential for traffic woes during the Thursday morning rush hour. MARTA bus and train service in the East Point area was also curtailed.

The evacuation affected thousands of residents in hundreds of homes, East Point officials estimated.

The leak was first reported around 8:20 p.m. Wednesday by a caller to 911.

Fire authorities said the leak was coming from a tank owned by Brenntag Stinnes Logistics. It contained an acid whose diluted form is vinegar. Officials said they do not expect any long term health problems because of the leak.

East Point Fire Chief Rosemary Cloud said the tank the chemical was leaking from was about the size of a fire truck. A helicopter taking aerial pictures around showed the tank was leaking plumes of smoke.

Cloud said authorities probably could not stop the leak and would instead isolate the area until the tank leaked out.

``This is a long, drawn-out process. It's a huge operation,'' Cloud said.

She said the evacuation was standard for such chemical leaks.

Two of the first responding police officers at the scene were brought to a hospital after complaining of burning eyes. Their injuries were minor. No other injuries were reported.

Hazardous materials crews, Fulton County officers and Atlanta officers were at the scene aiding the evacuation. MARTA buses were also being used to help with the evacuation.

``There was a smell going on all day,'' said Michelle Jett, who lived in an apartment and evacuated to City Hall. ``It smelled like vinegar and it hit you.''

Schools and day care centers in the area were closed Thursday. Some of the school closings were because the schools were being used as shelters for evacuated residents.