How does a ‘toxic cloud’ warrant a radiation warning symbol?


I’m not sure what concerns me more, the actual reporting or the image of a nuclear power plant with radiation symbol being used for a story about a plume of fuming sulfuric acid released from a chemical plant. Don’t get me wrong, this was a serious event that could have resulted in serious injuries; however, I would have appreciated more responsible reporting e.g., what is fuming sulfuric acid, how long might it persist, what are the exposure risks, etc. I especially like the quote from a former employee of the plant (last line below). How would you have reported the incident?

Authorities surveyed the neighborhood in Petrolia and determined that no traces of the toxic chemical remained, said Freda Tarbell, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

A leak at the Indspec Chemical Corp. plant in Petrolia on Saturday formed a cloud affecting at least 2,000 residents — some of whom fled their homes. Others huddled indoors with their windows shut, authorities said.

Ed Schrecengost, a former Indspec employee, said firefighters showed up at his son’s wedding reception, urging the guests to leave.

“It’s about as dangerous as you can get,” Schrecengost told CNN affiliate WPXI. “It’s a very fuming acid. A quart bottle of this material could fill a household in two seconds.”

[via cnn and googlenews]

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