NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WKBW) -- The TIER Environmental Services Vessel Cleaning Facility was evacuated Friday morning and 9 people were taken to the hospital after a cargo tank leaked up to 10 gallons of Iodine Pentafluoride, which is a very hazardous chemical. "When we attempted to grab a sample it actually melted the sampling device," Niagara Falls City Fire Chief William MacKay said.
One employee cleaning the tank was seriously injured with chemical burns. Eight others, including 4 employees and 4 firefighters, were taken to the hospital as a precaution.
The leak happened inside the TIER industrial building on Buffalo Avenue at Hyde Park in the City of Niagara Falls. Toxic vapor filled the structure and because of concerns of fumes spreading outside and south with the winds, the Robert Moses Parkway was shut down for much of the day and nearby Canada was notified of the emergency. Traffic was rerouted to 62 and Buffalo Avenue.
Hazmat crews suited up with the highest level of chemical protection and after several attempts were able to contain the leak. Air samples taken outside the building also came up clean. "We never had any plumes that migrated off of the property," Chief MacKay said.
Robert Moses Parkway was reopened during the afternoon and Memorial Day weekend traffic was allowed to flow again.
As of now it's unclear how the leak in the tank formed but it's believed to be an industrial accident. "We don't know if we had a container failure, don't know if we had a hose failure, or a coupling failure," Chief MacKay said. "This facility is properly licensed to do the operation they were carrying out."
The building was secured and now officials are investigating the cause of the spill. The owners of the company are out of Pennsylvania and were scheduled to arrive in Niagara Falls during Friday evening.
Some city officials at the scene helping for much of the day including City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, say crews from the fire department, police department, and from the Niagara Falls Airbase, really came together to work through this emergency. "They are fantastic partners and just within the last few weeks there were training exercises that had been conducted on very similar types of scenarios." Mayor Dyster said.