Bellaire Ohio Water Supply Contaminated with Hydrochloric Acid

Residents of Bellaire, Ohio were exposed to tap water contaminated with toxic hydrochloric acid, after water department workers accidentally dumped the chemical into the supply at a treatment plant instead of fluoride.

Forty pounds of hydrochloric acid were accidentally added to the water supply in Bellaire on February 1, 2009. The mistake occurred when a supplier delivered hydrochloric acid instead of fluoride, and water workers failed to properly check the labels on the drums.

The drums used to ship the chemicals are the same size and color, which may have contributed to the mistake. However, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency confirms that they were labeled correctly.

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Hydrochloric acid is an industrial chemical which is toxic and may cause serious injury when highly concentrated.

Officials have suggested that heavily diluted hydrochloric acid in the water may only pose a very slight or no health risk, but thousands of area residents were told to stop drinking the water until the supply systems had been flushed out.

According to the Associated Press, no illnesses have been reported yet, but drinking the acid contaminated water could possibly result in nausea, dry mouth and diarrhea. It is unclear whether any long term health risks could be posed.

The error was noticed the next morning, when workers found fluoride levels on Monday were less than normal.

The entire water system was drained and flushed by opening fire hydrants to clean the system.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency deemed the water to be safe at 1 p.m. on Monday, and water service returned to normal on Tuesday, February 3, 2009.
About 2,400 people live in Bellaire, Ohio, which is in the western part of the state.


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