NC county jail evacuated after chemicals held as evidence begins leaking

WSPA photo of hazmat workers at the Polk County Jail on Tuesday.

COLUMBUS, N.C. (WSPA) – Polk County officials say the hazardous chemical spilled at the Sheriff’s Office has been mitigated and a cleanup crew has been called.

The County Manager Marche Pittman says employees are still being monitored for changes in health and they expect to release them within an hour.

It is not known how long the cleanup will take and the Sheriff’s Office will remain closed for the rest of the day.

Polk County Emergency Management Director Bobby Arledge says the Polk County Jail was been evacuated due to a chemical spill around 9:23 a.m.

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The chemical was Paraquat Dichloride. The Environmental Protection Agency says the chemical is an herbicide.

It is highly toxic to human and one small sip is fatal and there’s no antidote, according to the EPA.

Pittman says the container was being kept as evidence in an ongoing investigation in the Sheriff’s Building.

It was being sent off to be tested by the FBI. They were returning it to the evidence room when they found the leak.

It was then taken outside. Arledge said it was in a five-gallon bucket.

Forty people were affected by the spill and crews are hazmat teams are working to mitigate the issue.

Director Arledge says 17 inmates and 20 employees are being medically monitored.

He says none have gone to the hospital.

The inmates have been medically evaluated and transported to surrounding counties for continuous medical monitoring, according to Pittman.

Pittman says there is no risk to anyone in surrounding buildings.

All emergency calls should be directed to 911 and administrative calls will be answered by the communications center.

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