2 companies each fined $1 million in Atchison chemical leak

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two companies that caused a chlorine gas leak over Atchison in 2106 were each fined $1 million Wednesday for violating federal clean air laws.

Harcros Chemicals, Inc., and MGP Ingredients, Inc., had pleaded guilty to negligently violating the Clean Air Act. The fines, which were expected, have been paid, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said.

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, prompting evacuation of nearby homes and schools and orders for residents to shelter in place. About 140 people sought medical attention.

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