Jadwin explains Philo ‘hazmat incident’


By Staff Report

The Muskingum County Emergency Management Agency has released more details following a ‘hazmat incident’ in Philo late Thursday night.

Director Jeff Jadwin explained that the situation was in response to the release of Chlorine Gas at the Philo Water Works plant just south of the village.

As previously reported by Y-City News, late Thursday night first responders from around the county were dispatched to Philo for a ‘hazmat incident.’

Crews on scene had blocked off roads and prevented the public from entering, only telling reporters that they were responding to a hazmat situation.

Roughly a quarter-mile seclusion zone was established just south of the village.

Old River Road was closed from Butterbean Ridge Road north past the Philo Water Works to Duncan Run Road.

Jadwin has now explained that a malfunction at the plant on a line that provides Chlorine infusion to the water supply was the source of the situation.

Chlorine is considered a dangerous gas and has the potential to cause serious side effects.

The greenish-yellow gas, which has a pungent, irritating oder, can result in nose, throat and eye irritation in low quantities.

In more concentrated levels it is known to affect breathing rate and cause coughing and damage to the lungs.

In very minute amounts Chlorine is added in the treatment process to eliminate algae and other forms of aquatic life from the water.

Often referred to as Chlorination, the process also helps oxidize any iron, manganese or hydrogen sulphine that may be present in the water which allows those items to be removed in the later sedimentation and filtration process.

According to Jadwin, the hazmat team had to suit up and go inside the building to turn off the tanks.

The crew is part of the county’s hazmat response team and is made up of members of numerous area fire departments.

Zanesville’s Assistant Fire Chief Doug Hobson serves as the state’s Office of Emergency Response Region 8 Coordinator and was also on scene assisting the county’s EMA.

After the team made entrance and completed successfully shutting down the faulty line, they had to be decontaminated.

“You couldn’t go into that environment without all that protection,” Jadwin explained. “It’s very dangerous to unsuited individuals.”

After the Chlorine Gas, which is three times as heavy as air, had time to dissipate the facility was turned back over to the Philo Water Department.

At no time were any individuals or homes in any danger, Jadwin added, citing that by the time it reached the nearest homes it was diluted to a safe level.

The water supply was also never contaminated and was reportedly back up and working early Friday morning.

In a Facebook post on the Harrison Township Fire & EMS page over the weekend, Chief Jarrod Blake reaffirmed Jadwin’s remarks saying that at no time was anyone in any danger.

“If a situation arises that evacuation is needed we will either go house to house and notify you or use the reverse 911 to inform the affected areas,” Blake wrote.

Jadwin added the blocked roads were established to keep the public at a safe distance while first responders handled the situation.

For Jadwin, who is delegated and responsible for coordinating the response for a wide range of situations, from chemical spills when a semi overturns to a radiological incident, the agencies throughout the county work very well together.

“All the agencies support one another,” said Jadwin. “The fire departments, the hazmat team, they work together and that also keeps the cost to the public down.”

By not attempting to bypass or circumvent road closures during a hazmat emergency the public ensures both their safety and the attention of first responders to the incident at hand.

Y-City News had a reporter on scene Thursday night for a significant amount of time but was unable to speak to anyone who could provide more information beyond that various agencies were responding to a “hazmat incident.”