Pinch a Penny chlorine leak

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. -- A bad chlorine leak forced firefighters to shut down four blocks of US-1 Tuesday afternoon after 1,900 gallons of chlorine leaked from the Pinch A Penny pool store in Ormond Beach (see map). It forced people in nearby businesses and even a school to stay indoors.


The collapsed tank crushed a concrete wall and a car. Ormond Beach fire and haz-mat crews cordoned off a four-block section of the city Tuesday, including a busy stretch of US-1.


The 1,900 gallons of sodium hypochlorite, swimming pool chlorine, burst out onto the ground when a holding tank at the pool supply store collapsed. Neighbors said it sounded like thunder or a car crash when it fell. First responders, though, were relieved to find it was liquid chlorine, not gas.


"This is liquid. It's confined to an immediate area. As a result, they're able to hose it down, dilute it and make it a lot safer than if it was in a gas form," explained Keith Feder, Ormond Beach Police Department.


Still, fire crews told people in at least three homes, a couple businesses and a small school to evacuate or stay inside. Chlorine fumes were still heavy in the area, though a stiff wind helped clear the air.


Air samples taken a couple hours after the spill showed good results, though ground samples may show something different.


"The chlorine and the contaminated water will seep into the ground, so they'll monitor that and there may have to be some mitigation between removing soil and repairing the contaminated area," Feder said.


Police said it's not clear yet why the tank fell. The collapsed tank and wall did damage a car, but no one needed any medical help because of the chemical or fumes


The store has a private company working on cleanup. City and county officials will have to follow up, but said chlorine breaks down fast once it's exposed to heat and diluted with water.