Elmira/Corning Regional Airport


UPDATE: Airgas Evacuation Lifted

Written By: Tanja Rekhi
UPDATE: Airgas Evacuation Lifted

ELMIRA (WENY) -- Plumes of potentially explosive gas erupted into the air at the Airgas plant in Elmira for a good portion of the day.
     "A 6,000 gallon hydrogen tank is leaking and it's leaking through a valve--- we think it's through a packing of the shock valve-- so we cannot mitigate it. We cannot shut it off," said Elmira Fire Captain Bob Lutz.
     Emergency crews on scene included Elmira Fire and Police and the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control. They let the hydrogen vent into the air.
     People within a 100 yard radius were ecacuated out of fear for a fire, and cars were detoured off of Sullivan Street. One home and one business were affected by the evacuation.
     "It's just for safety in case the winds change," said Capt. Lutz. "We have heavy wind and now we have this explosive mixture in the air. We want people away from it."
     Elmira Fire Captain Bob Lutz says 6,000 gallons of hydrogen escaped at the valve.
     Emergency crews waited for technical workers from Airgas who worked on a way to try to vent the area quicker. They stopped the leak around 2:00 p.m.
     But the question still remains: What caused it? We reached out to Airgas and they provided us with a statement saying:   
       "An investigation in underway as to the cause of the incident. Airgas will
        investigate the tank from which the leak occurred, including the valve. Airgas
        associates returned to the plant after the evacuation was lifted."