DEQ investigates Hopewell chemical release - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

DEQ investigates Hopewell chemical release

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HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) -

An investigation is now underway into what caused that orange and yellow cloud above the Honeywell plant in Hopewell.

The Department of Environmental Quality is looking into the incident and says "malfunctioning equipment" may be to blame.

The chemical burst of nitrogen oxide created a large orange and yellow cloud above the Honeywell plant just after 4 p.m. Monday. Now, DEQ is looking into how much of the chemical was emitted and if additional preventative measures need to be put into place.

"We just need to get as much information about what happened as we can," said DEQ spokesman Bill Hayden.

DEQ regulates nitrogen oxide emissions. Chemical plants, such as Honeywell, are allowed to emit a certain amount of the gas, by permit.

"One of the things we have to look at is whether, in this case Honeywell, if too much was emitted, " Hayden explained.

Honeywell is conducting an internal investigation, as well. In a statement released by the company,  a spokesperson says, " Honeywell is currently conducting an investigation that includes a thorough look at our process controls that moderate nitrogen oxide emissions to ensure they function correctly and identify any improvements that may be needed. "

In small amounts we inhale nitrogen oxide daily. The chemical is produced from vehicles, power plants, and essentially anything involving the burning of fossil fuels.

DEQ says Hopewell residents need not be alarmed by the orange and yellow cloud produced by the chemical burst.

"As far as we know, because the release was limited to and it dissipated we don't have any indication of health or environmental concerns," Hayden added.

Honeywell contacted DEQ about the incident a little more than an hour after it happened.  By law, Honeywell has 14 days to provide DEQ with a detailed report as to what exactly happened and how.

Once DEQ receives that report from Honeywell the agency says it will analyze it and make recommendations if needed.

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