Sulfuric Acid Cloud Over Baltimore

Issue 5 and Volume 131.

Sulfuric Acid Cloud Over Baltimore Baltimore Sunpapers photo A pinhole leak in a discharge pipe of a 4X10-foot sulfur-trioxide tank at a Proctor & Gamble plant on the Baltimore, Md., waterfront developed into a low-lying sulfuric acid cloud which affected an estimated 300,000 residents of Baltimore City and Baltimore County last January 4. Although the leak was discovered by plant employees around 4 p.m., it was not reported to the Baltimore City Fire Department until 6:28 p.m. By then, sulfur-trioxide (SO3)had mixed with heavy moisture in the air and turned into sulfuric acid, which completely deteriorated the discharge pipe. As the sulfur-trioxide poured out of the pipe, a large cloud began to form over the plant. Plant employees immediately evacuated the area while a plant supervisor called the fire department. Baltimore City communications dispatched four engine companies, two truck companies and a battalion chief to the plant. On advice from…

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