AP NEWS

Kansas company pleads guilty for its part in chemical cloud

January 31, 2020 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas company pleaded guilty Friday to violating clean air rules and is expected to pay a $1 million fine for its role in a chemical gas cloud that formed over Atchison in 2016, causing more than 140 people to seek medical treatment.

Harcros Chemicals, Inc., of Kansas City, Kansas, pleaded guilty to negligently violating the federal Clean Air Act, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news release. The plea agreement calls for both sides to recommend no probation when Hacros is officially sentenced May 27.

Another company, MGP Ingredients Inc., of Atchison, pleaded guilty to the same charge in November and is also expected to pay a $1 million fine.

On Oct. 21, 2016, a greenish-yellow chlorine gas cloud formed over Atchison when 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid were mistakenly combined with 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite at MGP’s plant.

The noxious cloud covered the city for 45 minutes until emergency personnel turn off the flow. Nearby homes and schools were evacuated and other residents were told to shelter in place.

Atchison has about 11,000 residents and is about 50 miles (about 80 kilometers) northwest of Kansas City.