SELKIRK — Bethlehem Police announced it has lifted roadblocks and evacuation orders surrounding SABIC this morning.
The roadblocks marking a one-mile radius around the plant were lifted as of 8 a.m. this morning, according to a statement released by Bethlehem Police Cmdr. Adam Hornick. Businesses that were forced to leave within a half-mile of the plant were also allowed to return to work.
A Styrene release occurred at SABIC on Tuesday morning, Sept. 1, at about 6 a.m. Bethlehem Police and Selkirk Fire responded to a hazardous material incident. An unknown amount of Styrene was released from a railcar on the SABIC property.
The incident was isolated to a tanker car at the plant, according to a message shared by Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple on Twitter. A stretch of railroad extends across Creble Road from the CSX Rail Yard. Deputies used the Sheriff’s Drone Unit to assess the environment, including the temperature, before first responders went in.
Styrene is transported by tanker car where temperatures are monitored to prevent spontaneous polymerization. According to the Royal Dutch Shell oil company, Styrene Monomer is a flammable liquid and very reactive. Spontaneous polymerization occurs when it is not properly stabilized. A polymerization inhibitor is used. High temperatures can reduce the effect of the inhibitor.
In 2005, a similar incident occurred in Cincinnati when a reaction inside a tanker car caused pressure to build triggering a safety valve to release Styrene gas to prevent an explosion.
The situation was stabilized overnight, allowing authorities to open roadblocks and businesses to return to work the following morning.