Four workers were treated for injuries after a chemical spill occurred inside a Birmingham aluminum plant Monday morning. Bermco Aluminum, a maker of secondary aluminum alloys, evacuated its building on 33rd Street North along the Messer Airport Highway while the spill was contained and cleaned up, a Birmingham Fire Department spokesperson told AL.com.
A company official said that a leak of liquid chlorine occurred as a vendor was making a weekly delivery of the chemical, which is used in the plant for cleaning purposes, according to AL.com. The spill was reported about 9:40 a.m. The company sounded an alarm, and employees evacuated the building through designated exit routes.
“Everybody was fine, our system worked as designed,” a company official told AL.com.
About 30 firefighters responded to the scene, and hazmat workers were sent in to contain the spill and clean up. Factory workers and delivery drivers waited for several hours before normal operations resumed.
Bermco Aluminum started as a scrapyard in the 1920s and has grown to become a global supplier of aluminum alloys. USA Today lists Bermco in its Special Report “The Smokestack Effect,” an analysis of “Toxic Air and America’s Schools.”
According to the report, the factory emits chlorine, aluminum fumes and dust, cadmium and cadmium compounds, arsenic and arsenic compounds, and hydrochloric acid. USA Today plotted the emissions of the chemicals and found they put five Birmingham schools (Homebound Elementary, Homebound High, Saint Barnabas Regional, Glen Iris Elementary, and Kirby Middle) at risk of exposure.
According to the report, Glen Iris and Kirby ranked in the first percentile nationally of schools with the worst air, while St. Barnabas ranked in the second percentile and both Homebound Schools in the third percentile.