Chemical reaction in Norton evacuates dozens of people
By: Rebecca Turco
NORTON, Mass. – An hours-long hazmat scare in Norton is all clear following a chemical reaction at an old mill building.
The chemical reaction happened at Tweave Incorporated on Barrows Street. The five or so workers inside heard “popping, firecracker sounds” coming from a 30-gallon barrel, according to Fire Chief Paul Schleicher, then saw fumes coming out of it.
They immediately called 911 around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, telling authorities one of the chemicals involved may have been chlorine.
Every building within a quarter-mile radius was evacuated as a precaution. Hazmat workers were inside and outside the building assessing. Around 12 fire departments responded as back-up in case the situation went south – which it didn’t. “If it did violently react and start a fire, we could mitigate it and try to control the vapor cloud or anything else that's coming out of it," Schleicher said.
Tweave Incorporated is in the process of relocating. The workers were moving some of the items out, but did not touch the chemicals, according to Schleicher.
Officials say there were about a half-dozen large barrels of chemicals next to each other in a room, but the reaction was limited to just one.
"The reaction caused the top of the barrel to actually melt away,” explained Hazmat Director Dave DiGregorio. “That allowed for the reaction to happen and we were able to mitigate it after that."
In a statement, Tweave Incorporated said the container is being disposed of off-site and thanked the first responders.