Demolition at the old Marine Life site in Gulfport may be to blame for a chemical spill. Wednesday night, fire officials and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality responded to the Marine Life complex after reports of a strong chlorine smell.
According to Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan, crews cleaning the site may have punctured one of the tanks. Now officials are warning contractors to be extra careful before beginning demolition.
"We discovered that there were several chlorine tanks, 150 pound tanks on the ground and one of them was leaking," Sullivan said.
Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan says there were five tanks still at the site and all of them were filled with chlorine, something he believes the contractor doing the cleanup didn't know.
"We believe that during the removal, that one of the tanks received some puncture holes in the tank and started leaking," Chief Sullivan said.
Chief Sullivan says the threat of chlorine is very real and the outcome of this chemical spill could have been different.
"The problem with chlorine, I think that everybody knows that chlorine can cause respiratory burns, burns from the skin, mucus, anything that can get wet. You can have severe burns from the chlorine," said Sullivan.
Hazmat teams quickly evacuated the area until they corrected the problem and secured all of the tanks. Now Sullivan is hoping cleanup crews along the coast will take note of the chemical scare and use extra caution before doing demolition.
"Even this long after the storm, you can have tanks that are coming out of these debris sites that are dangerous. That's one of the reasons we ask people to stay out of the debris," said Sullivan.
Chief Sullivan says hazmat crews have removed all the tanks and there is no threat to South Mississippians.