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DigitalSky

Apex Plant Explosion

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I'm up watching live coverage of this online but as of now no one is sure of what's happened so far, but they say at least 16,000 residents of Apex have been evacuated, so apparently a very grave situation in Wake Co.

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The sad part is that the company had apparently been warned such an incident could occur back in March of this year. That company won't be there much longer I'm sure.

I just purchased a home and I thought of Apex as a spot to buy. But then I thought of Shearon Harris and all the other plants around US 1 and thought better of it. So I'm in Northern Wake county instead. What good is a expensive dollar home if you can't breath the air safely.

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Apparently some of the news media outside of the Triangle have the geography of the area a bit mixed up. My mother in WinstonSalem frantically called me up about it. "They said a big yellow cloud was over downtown Raleigh!".

Um, no mom...downtown Apex...about a half hour away. "Oh!". :P

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So far from what i heard, nobody has died from the chlorine gas but the enviromental impacts will be something you will hear about for days and months to come. The area in concern is the Cape Fear River Basin that is south and east of Raleigh.

Just heard now, NC 55 just re-opened at 1:04pm today, so theres some progress being made.

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So far from what i heard, nobody has died from the chlorine gas but the enviromental impacts will be something you will hear about for days and months to come. The area in concern is the Cape Fear River Basin that is south and east of Raleigh.

Just heard now, NC 55 just re-opened at 1:04pm today, so theres some progress being made.

Thats what I am worried about Jersey man. I live 10 miles southeast of Apex in Fuquay Varina. I am worried about the drinking water over the next few weeks. I guess I am downstream right?

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^ Yes, and no. I think most of the topography of Apex has the largest potential for trouble being streams that flow into Jordan Lake. The cities and towns that use Jordan for drinking water would be the ones that should be the most concerned right now.

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Before we start worrying about drinking water, shouldn't we think about whether this is a drinking water risk? Where is an environmental chemist when you need one? I recall that chlorine gas, maybe, will break down to hydrochloric acid. (HCL)?? Isn't acid neutralized with a base? So, isn't it more of a breathing in issue than a longevity in surface water issue? I hope someone who knows more about this than me can chime in.

Before ya'll worry to much about the "next 10 days" find out where your drinking water source comes from. Is it wells? Is it a river or lake? Doesn't your municipality treat and test your drinking water before it gets to your tap?

Now regarding groundwater (as opposed to surface water, such as rivers and streams) the issue would be more at the plant, where the fire has caused 55 gallon drums to break open and possibly spill on the ground. That COULD be a groundwater issue if not addressed before it reaches groundwater. But as every official and their brother is aware of this situation, I would assume that the groundwater risk would be addressed pretty much immediately. It is cheaper and faster to clean up soil than groundwater.

Just trying to pull back the panic to rational thinking.

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Drinking water is just a part of the problem, although i will agree, it can be monitored by the municipality/county water treatment plants. What about livestock and agriculture (IOW farms) along the Cape Fear River Basin, since the morning rain helped bring the chemicals out of the atmosphere into the ground? This is a serious issue and while things may return to normal in Apex, the communities and areas that get the run-off will not be in the clear for quite some time. Ultimately, if run off makes it into the river, the Cape Fear from US 1, lets say for example, runs through Lillington, Fayetteville, many many farms past F'ville, then towards Wilmington and departs at Fort Fisher/Bald Head Island into the Atlantic Ocean.

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Chlorine gas=mustard gas. Its also actually used in the drinking water chlorination process. It will not break down to HCL as it is diatomic Cl2 but is very reactive and combine with other naturally occuring elements/molecules leading to formation of HCl among other things. One of the problems is that is a gamish of crud burning other than just Cl2.

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The plant itself drains into the Neuse Basin-typically the divide between the Neuse and the Cape Fear is NC-55 in that vicinity, although in this case the plant drains to Middle Creek eventually. Depending on how mobile the plume is/was, both basins could be affected, but probably the Neuse more directly.

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Nice to see some UPers got As in chemistry.

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This explosion in Apex has been the top story in Charlotte all day on the local news. All the stations sent reporters up there to cover it.

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Depending on how mobile the plume is/was, both basins could be affected, but probably the Neuse more directly.

I did not think about the Neuse River but im leaning more towards the Cape Fear because of its location and topography.

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I did not think about the Neuse River but im leaning more towards the Cape Fear because of its location and topography.

Hey, maybe the chlorine blast will help to disinfect the sewage that got into Swift Creek earlier this year :P

Seriously, though, I doubt there will be substantial ramifications from a surface waters impact standpoint. The concern was more mobility of the gas plume, which is nasty stuff to be sure. It's probably mobile enough to not present too much of an issue to the stream that drains the area (goes under the on-ramps to the NC-55 interchange).

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