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Posted at 4:33 p.m. EST Thursday, February 15, 2001

OHIO NEWS 7-DAY ARCHIVE
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Chemical reaction forces evacuation near plant

ELMORE, Ohio (AP) -- A chemical reaction inside a barrel filled with potentially toxic metal chips sent smoke spewing Thursday and forced the evacuation of seven homes.

Brush Wellman Inc. said it was testing the air to determine whether the cloud of smoke was toxic. There were no injuries reported.

It wasn't clear what started the reaction, company spokesman Larry Chako said.

The 55-gallon barrel contained chips of beryllium, a metal used in the defense, automotive and electronics industries. Long-term exposure to its dust can cause a fatal lung disease.

``It wouldn't cause any immediate effects,'' Chako said. ``But we don't want people exposed to that.''

Workers inside the plant, which is about 20 miles southeast of Toledo, were moved away from the smoking barrel, and seven homes were evacuated for about four hours.

Sand was poured into the barrel to stop the reaction, Chako said.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency also was monitoring the reaction and said it may do its own testing of the air.

The smoke rose quickly and did not hover above the houses or a nearby road, Chako said.


                  
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