Norfolk Fire Department contacted Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads command center personnel at approximately 7:30 a.m., reporting a chemical tank was overloaded at a Kinder-Morgan terminal on the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River.
A Coast Guard pollution responders have been dispatched to the scene and are working with local agencies to assess the situation, implement plans to contain any potential leakage and insure the safe unloading of the sodium hydroxide to additional containers.
An update from the Coast Guard said that latest information indicates the tank was leaking and not overloaded. The leak is currently contained, the Coast Guard said, and a a security zone has been put in place in the Elizabeth River from the Berkley Bridge to the Campostella Bridge. So far there has been no report of the sodium hydroxide in the Elizabeth River.
Local media has reported that the tank currently holds approximately 900,000 gallons of the sodium hydroxide and an unknown amount of product leaked.
Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye or caustic soda, is a strong chemical found in many industrial solvents and cleaners, including flooring stripping products, brick cleaners and cements, as well as in certain household products, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Kinder Morgan’s Norfolk terminal handles commodities such as chemicals and ethanol and has 11 tanks with a total storage capacity of 420,000 barrels.