City employee hurt in water treatment plant explosion

MARTINEZ, Calif. – A Martinez Water Treatment Plant employee received cuts and abrasions Thursday morning after a 100-gallon sodium hypochlorite container exploded at the plant at 3003 Pacheco Blvd., Assistant City Manager Anne Cardwell said.

The employee was taken to a nearby hospital for assessment.

The incident happened when employees were moving plastic containers of the chemical compound when one of them noticed one container was hot to the touch, Cardwell said in a statement released by the city of Martinez.

The container suddenly exploded, releasing the sodium hypochlorite onto the ground.

“There is no indication that the explosion was in any way related to operations at the plant or actions by employees,” the statement said.

The workers started containment measures until Contra Costa County Fire Protection and Contra Costa County Hazmat units arrived to continue the process, the statement said. Martinez Police also responded to the scene, the statement said.

The city’s statement said the container had been holding 100 gallons of sodium hypochlorite, and the quantity that spilled didn’t pose any threats. Nor was the plant’s water supply or its operations affected, the statement said.

The statement reiterated that the incident posed no danger to the surrounding neighborhood.

However, an investigation of the incident is ongoing, the statement said.

Sodium hypochlorite has been used for many years as a disinfectant and bleaching agent, and has been described as the oldest-used and most important chlorine-based bleach, according to a publication by The Chlorine Institute.

Because the compound can corrode such metals as stainless steel and aluminum, it usually is stored in certain plastics, according to the OxyChem Sodium Hypochlorite Handbook.

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