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Chlorine leak not harmful to the public

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A chlorine leak at Sunnyside City Well No. 8 last Friday caused officials to close Yakima Valley Highway from Swan Road to First Street, including Homer Street. The closure prevented anyone from traveling to or from the Sunnyside Law and Justice Center. City crews were this morning (Monday) still working at the well.

Although officials closed off Yakima Valley Highway from Swan Road to First Street, as well as Homer Street, Battalion Chief Bill Harris of the Sunnyside Fire Department said chlorine that leaked from a city well last Friday was not considered a danger to the public.

He said all steps taken by officials were precautionary measures to ensure no one was harmed.

The fire department, said Harris, responded to a report of a chlorine leak at Sunnyside's city well No. 8 at 1:45 p.m. last Friday. That well is near Sunnyside's Law and Justice Center, which was quickly secured and closed off to visitors.

A regulator to the chlorine tanks used for treating city water had malfunctioned, a small amount of chlorine was leaking from the tanks and defensive measures were taken.

"We secured the area," said Harris, noting the leak was slow and "...no high volume could leak. It was isolated to the property."

He said chlorine also dissipates into the atmosphere at a rapid rate. As a result, it doesn't stay in the atmosphere and the health of the public was not a concern.

The Washington State Patrol was called to the scene because troopers have jurisdiction when there is a hazardous materials incident, said Harris.

Troopers, he said, advised nearby residents and those inside the Sunnyside Law and Justice Center to stay indoors as a precautionary measure.

"Once the chlorine tank was fully emptied, Sunnyside Public Works employees took over," said Harris, stating city crews had to repair the defective part to ensure the well was fully functional again.

He said a hazardous material team was not required at the scene because of the non life-threatening nature of the incident.

Washington State Patrol officials were not available for comment as of press time.

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