TDI Release Handled Safely
April 1, 2022
Shelter-in-place in Adrian lifted; was issued after chemical release at Anderson Development
Brad HeinemanThe Daily Telegram
ADRIAN — Residents in much of Adrian’s east side were told to shelter in place for more than one hour early Wednesday morning because of a chemical release at the Anderson Development Co.
The shelter-in-place order was lifted at about 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to a news release from the city of Adrian.
The shelter order was issued at about 7:45 a.m. and affected people residing or working along and inside the boundaries of Center and Elm streets, East Siena Heights Drive, Parr Highway and East Beecher Street in Adrian. Residents in this area were informed to stay indoors and keep their home’s windows and doors closed throughout the duration of the order.
A release of a toluene diisocyanate vapors, also known by the acronym TDI, led the company to call the Adrian Fire Department, a news release from Anderson said. TDI is used in the production of a wide range of materials from couch cushions to rollerblade wheels. While finished products produced from TDI are common, the raw materials have some safety concerns, the release said.
“Exposure to TDI and related compounds is well known to result in skin and lung sensitization among workers and has been documented to cause asthma, lung damage, and in severe cases, fatal reactions,” according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Operators at Anderson’s plant at 1415 E. Michigan St. were starting to make a batch of urethane at 4 a.m. Wednesday, the company’s news release said. Urethane is commonly used as a sealant, but it has several other uses because it is resistant to water, oil and oxidation.
“As they were charging materials, they identified that the temperature began increasing very quickly,” the company said. “The reactor heated up and the safety relief devices activated as designed. Some material carried over into the containment vessels, and some toluene diisocyanate vapors were released into the atmosphere.”
Emergency responders, which consisted of the Adrian fire and police departments and the Lenawee County hazmat team along with Anderson, “decided to be very cautious about the situation” and requested that people shelter in place for a half-mile around the plant.
Capt. A.J. Armstrong of the Adrian Fire Department said the responding agencies made sure those vapors that did get released into the air were not harmful.
“Luckily, nature helped us out and dissipated what was in the air,” Armstrong said. “We have resources and literature available that gives us an idea on how to deal with situations like this. First, we start with distances and meters and we monitor the quantity of the chemical that was released into the air. We were able to confirm the half-mile radius downwind was sufficient for issuing the order.”
The responding agencies, Armstrong said, had to wait for the “all clear” from Anderson Development when the parts in the plant were replaced and fully functional.
“Things could have gotten worse, but luckily they didn’t,” Armstrong said. “We were able to get a handle on things pretty quickly. If they did get worse, we would have used our knowledge of the situation to address any further concerns.”
Anderson Development said the emergency responders that assisted at the scene were able to handle the incident safely and addressed it without any injuries to employees or responders.
“The reactor is cooling and is stable at this point,” the release said. “Air monitoring has been conducted and confirmed that public health was never in jeopardy during this situation. The actions the team took were all out of an abundance of caution to protect the public.”
Investigation of the chemical release is being conducted, the release said, and is in its initial stages.
“We will continue our investigation to ensure that we understand what happened and how we can prevent anything like this from happening again,” the release said.
Craig Tanis, Lenawee County emergency management coordinator, said the shelter-in-place order issued by the city of Adrian was precautionary. The readings of the chemical released into the air were in the parts per billion, he said, which is well below the acceptable threshold.
“People were not in any real danger. It was just precautionary,” he said.
Through the county’s Lenawee Alerts system, 108 people who had registered addresses inside the half-mile radius zone were notified of the situation, Tanis said.
The alerts, he said, notify registered people of severe weather and other incidents happening throughout the county. To create an account, visit www.lenaweealerts.com. Residents should also make sure at least every six months that their account information is still viable and up to date, Tanis said, so that they will be able to receive instant notifications about emergencies right to their phones.
Anyone who believes they signed up for alerts but did not get a message before the countywide tornado siren test last week should log in to the website and check their contact information.
Messages can be sent by any combination of phone call, text message or email.
Because of the chemical release, The Daily Bread food pantry and soup kitchen, 302 S. Tecumseh St., posted on its social media page Wednesday morning it would be closed for the day. The shelter order included part of Siena Heights University’s campus on the south side of East Siena Heights Drive. An alert posted to SHU’s Facebook page said this area included the Erickson Enrollment Building, the softball and baseball fields, the fieldhouse and the parking lots.
The Lenawee County Fair & Event Grounds also shared on social media it would be temporarily closed to the public because of the shelter order.
Normal operations were able to resume following the lifting of the order.
Daily Telegram news editor David Panian contributed to this report.