Early morning ag chemical release frightens many in Finley, Washington
An early-morning agricultural chemical release frightened many people on their way to work and school in Finley, in southeast Washington state, last week.
A little after 7 a.m. Sept. 27, above Finley, there was a large mustard-yellow cloud hanging in the air. It had people worried. People took pictures and posted to their social media.
An ag chemical firm called Nutrien said the company knows about its release.
Plant officials said it was part of a scheduled shutdown and power up.
The Benton Clean Air Agency said the chemical is nitric acid, or “nox” for short.
Still, for Jessica Bergman it was worrying. She said it looked like a rusted cloud hanging in the air.
“It was the craziest thing, like, never seen nothing like it,” she said, as a train whistle blew in the distance. Her cat, Miss Kitty, curled around her legs meowing softly.
Bergman said she took pictures and called her friends after seeing the cloud. Benton Clean Air Agency said it’s looking into the incident.
“It was never any danger because it wasn't at ground level,” said Rob Rodger, a control officer with Benton Clean Air Agency. “Looking at the sun makes it a lot more visible.”
The company will have to draw up a report about the excess emissions and submit it to the Benton Clean Air Agency and then turn in a more detailed report in about a month.
“I don’t expect to get an excess emissions report because I don’t think this was excess emissions,” Rodger said. “They [Nutrien] have a good environmental program, they’re on top of it.”
Rodger said the company has calculated their release and told the Benton Clean Air Agency that they haven’t exceeded their permit. The agency is requesting information from the company to make sure its emission monitor is properly calibrated, he said.
“It’s kind of sit and wait right now,” Rodger said. “We’ll submit that request, probably on Monday, but it will be a week before we get that information back.”