It was around 8 p.m. Wednesday night when a container filled with hydrogen chloride began to leak into the atmosphere, forcing evacuations in the neighborhood surrounding Bayer CropScience. But what is it that makes the chemical so dangerous?
We did the research and found out why authorities had to act so quickly.
Hydrogen chloride is the gas form of hydrochloric acid. It can be very dangerous if inhaled. Exposure can lead to coughing, choking, nose inflammation, circulatory system failure and even death.
Bayer CropScience keeps the chemical in liquid form by holding it in highly pressurized containers, but yesterday when that pressure was released, it shot into the atmosphere as a gas. The gas mixed with moisture in the atmosphere and turned into hydrochloric acid.
"Hydrochloric acid is certainly corrosive to the skin. It's something you don't want to inhale at all but it is not explosive," said Monty Christian, Vice President of U.S. commercial cotton operations for Bayer CropScience
Christian explained why the company uses hydrochloric acid in this area.
"We de-lint cotton seed at this site and it's part of our de-linting process to use the hydrochloric acid. Cotton seed in its raw state has a lot of fuzz and when you remove the fuzz, that's what you use the hydrochloric acid for," Christian said.
He said with the new farm equipment cotton growers can't plant the seeds unless all of the fuzz is removed, so it is very important to cotton growers in this area.
We did some research on Bayer CropScience to see if they are in compliance with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. According to their records, Bayer CropScience has had no violations between Sept. 1 of 2001 and May 9 of this year.
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