EVERETT — Fumes that rose from a Snohomish County waste transfer station on Wednesday morning apparently were caused by a corrosive chemical dumped in with garbage.
Hazardous material crews from several fire departments responded to the chemical spill inside a county waste transfer station near Paine Field.
Snohomish County Fire District 1 spokeswoman Leslie Hynes said tests showed the chemical was potassium hydroxide. It has a number of industrial uses, but it also is sometimes used in the manufacture of illegal drugs.
Firefighters located two five-gallon plastic buckets with residual amounts of potassium hydroxide in the area where the vapor cloud was seen, Hynes said.
“Potassium hydroxide had to react with some other substance to generate a vapor cloud like the one described by the transfer station employees,” Hynes said.
The fumes were spotted about 7 a.m. and were confined to an enclosed space within the transfer station at 10700 Minuteman Drive. Workers left the area and called 911. No one was injured.
More than 30 firefighters from six agencies went to the scene. Hazardous material teams from districts 1 and 7 as well as Everett and Marysville fire departments were on the scene, as well as firefighters from Mukilteo and the Snohomish County Airport.
The chemical apparently was mixed in with materials delivered by a commercial garbage truck.
“We probably won’t ever know how much of the chemical was there to begin with. It may have been a residual amount or there may have been more that spilled as the trash was being pushed into the hopper,” Hynes said.
The transfer station was expected to be closed all Wednesday while a contractor cleaned up the site.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, email@example.com