Evacuations lifted after chemical leak at California plant

TAFT, Calif. (AP) — Authorities urged evacuations within 6 miles of a manufacturing plant Wednesday after a chemical release in a rural area of California's San Joaquin Valley.

Emergency crews responded around 10 a.m. following reports of a hazardous materials spill at Taft Manufacturing Co., the Kern County Fire Department said.

An estimated 250 gallons of liquid acrolein leaked from a tank although it didn't leave the plant, fire Battalion Chief Brandon Smith said at a news conference.

Among other things, acrolein is used in the preparation of polyester resin and polyurethane. Vapors from the chemical can cause eye, nose and breathing irritation.

A phone message left at Taft Manufacturing was not immediately returned.

No injuries were reported but several dozen plant employees were evacuated. Authorities also recommended evacuations for people living or working within 6 miles of the plant and went door to door advising them to leave.

About 70 people were evacuated, authorities said.

People between 6 and 9 miles were urged to stay inside, close their doors and windows and turn off central air systems.

The leak was stopped in a couple of hours but the liquid had to be absorbed and the area had to be checked by hazardous materials crews for fumes. About 10 hours after the first report, fire officials confirmed the leak had been contained and lifted the recommendations of evacuations and sheltering in place.

The plant and a few other commercial sites are in the middle of a large expanse of agricultural fields between cities of Bakersfield and Taft.

Taft College, which is about 10 miles west of the plant, sent students home for the day.