Company Fined $42,500 for Chlorine Leak

Times Staff Writer

The Dial Corp. was fined $42,500 Friday after pleading no contest to six misdemeanor charges stemming from a chlorine gas leak last year at its South Gate plant that sent more than 70 people, including 27 nearby elementary schoolchildren, to hospitals for treatment of nausea and eye irritation.

South Gate Municipal Judge Frank Gafkowski assessed the fine and also placed the corporation and three of its officials on probation for one year. The officials, who each pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor charge, were director of manufacturing Daniel J. King, maintenance supervisor Skip Foster and plant maintenance manager Nelson Landman, authorities said.

Under the terms of probation, all three officials will be required to follow an emergency response and evacuation plan designed by an independent safety firm.

The February, 1986, accident occurred when a pipeline ruptured at the Rayo Avenue plant, sending a green cloud of poisonous chlorine gas spewing toward the nearby Tweedy Elementary School. The pipeline, which was in the process of being dismantled as part of a modernization project, carried chlorine from a railroad tank car to a bleach-making vat.

The leak at the plant, where Purex bleach and other products are made, lasted eight minutes before an employee turned off a valve.

The corporation pleaded no contest to five state Labor Code violations as well as an infraction of the public nuisance statute of the state Health and Safety Code, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. Fred Macksoud of the district attorney's environmental crimes unit/occupational safety unit.

The three officials each pleaded no contest to one count of violating the state code requiring that pressurized pipeline systems be depressurized when they are being dismantled.

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