Evacuations ordered after chemical is released at Kern County manufacturing plant

(Chris Keller / Los Angeles Times)

Authorities ordered evacuations Wednesday after a chemical release at a manufacturing plant in a rural area of the San Joaquin Valley.

Emergency crews responded about 10 a.m. following reports of a hazardous materials spill at Taft Manufacturing Co., the Kern County Fire Department said.

Hazardous materials teams “identified the source of the chemical leak and have stopped it,” the department later said on Twitter.


The department urged people who live or work within six miles of the facility to evacuate. Taft College, which is about 10 miles west of the plant, sent students home for the day. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

“We’ve been very fortunate that winds have been calm,” said fire department spokesman Andrew Freeborn.

A few dozen employees were safely evacuated from the plant, he said.

The facility and a few other commercial sites are in the middle of a large expanse of agricultural fields between the cities of Bakersfield and Taft.

Taft Mayor Dave Noerr told KGET-TV that the chemical acrolein was accidentally released at the plant. The chemical is used in the preparation of polyester resin and polyurethane. Acrolien vapor may cause eye, nasal and respiratory tract irritations.