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Acid spill, fire evacuates Tullahoma plant

Posted on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 11:36 am

By Wayne Thomas, staff writer

Emergency personnel were called to the UTC Aerospace Unit (former Goodrich plant) on Mitchell Boulevard Sunday night when a small fire broke out and an acid spill occurred.

Employees at the plant were evacuated from the building, according to Tullahoma Fire Chief Richard Shasteen, who said an equipment malfunction started the small fire around 5:30 p.m.

“We got a call that they had a fire at the plant and when the trucks crossed the viaduct the guys (firefighters) could see

Members of the Tullahoma and Manchester fire depart-ments study floor plans of the UTC Aerospace plant on Mitchell Boulevard Sunday night before entering an area where a fire and acid spill occurred. The spill was con-tained and there were no injuries, authorities said. (Photo provided by Sam Crimm)

black smoke,” Shasteen said.

He explained that the fire involved acid used to clean the landing gear produced at the plant.

“They have a process where they place the landing gears in acid to clean them,” Shasteen said, adding that company officials told firefighters that a machine overheated and melted the plastic tank container of acid underneath.

Once the motor caught fire the sprinkler system in the plant activated and caused the liquid to overflow into a containment area.

“Their hazmat people quickly took action to contain the spill and kept it from spreading,” Shasteen said. “They immediately notified us.”

“UTC has its own water treatment facility on site, which also prevented the material from reaching the city’s water system,” Coffee County Emergency Management Agency director Allen Lendley said.

Because of the potential seriousness to the spill, the area Hazmat Unit made up of the Tullahoma and Manchester fire departments was called in to assist the plant’s hazardous material personnel.

Coffee County Ambulance Service stood by in the event it was needed.

The spill was contained in about and hour and half. There was no hazmat threat to the community and there were no injuries, authorities said.

Company personnel were still busy Monday cleaning up after the incident.

Wayne Thomas may be reached by email at