U.S. Water News Online
RIGA, Latvia — A chemical spill in Latvia prompted the evacuation of hundreds of people for a few hours in the capital, officials said. No injuries were reported.
Ship traffic to and from the port of Riga — including passenger ferries — was also allowed to resume after rescue workers managed to contain the spill on the island of Kundzinsale, Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Inese Veisa said.
Acetone cyanohydrin leaked recently from one of five cisterns in a container terminal on the island, Capt. Maigurs Ludbarzs of the Fire and Rescue Service said.
The chemical is used in the production of plastics, acrylics and synthetic resins. It can form an explosive and highly poisonous compound known as hydrocyanic acid when it comes into contact with water.
In all, the cisterns contained about 20 tons of the chemical. The size of the spill was not immediately clear, Ludbarzs said.
Rescue workers first had to cool the leaky cistern, after which the substance will be pumped into a different container, Ludbarzs said.
Kundzinsale is in the Daugava River, about three kilometers (two miles) north of downtown Riga. Workers in the area, which contains terminals of Riga's port, and residents of nearby neighborhoods, were evacuated and later allowed to return home, officials said.
Rescue officials said the wind direction was also favorable since it wasn't blowing into heavily populated districts of Riga, which has a population of 800,000.
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