At 10:11 am, Portland Fire & Rescue was dispatched to reports of Anhydrous Ammonia (NH3) leaking from a rail car behind 10627 N. Swift Ct.
Firefighters from the Portland Fire Station 26 (Portsmouth/University Park) were the first to arrive and assumed command of the incident. PF&R's HazMat team from Station 7 (8 Firefighters) also responded to assist with the incident along with Station 22 (St. Johns).
Equipped with self-contained breathing apparatus, two members of our Hazmat Team approached the rail car with their sophisticated monitoring equipment to identify the chemical and measure how much, if any, was released.
According to Lieutenant Alan Bronson, a concentration of 300 ppm is considered an IDLH, or an immediate danger to life and health. The monitoring equipment was maxed out at its 200 ppm limit. Because of these high levels, Incident Command made the decision to withdraw the entry team to increase the level of their protective clothing and get additional monitoring equipment.
After donning their Level-A suits they re-entered the hot zone, along with two HazMat Technicians from Union Pacific railroad to locate and stop the leak. It was determined that a malfunctioning pressure relief valve was the source of the leak. After changing out breathing air bottles, the team was able to repair the leaking valve enough to significantly reduce the concentration.
The rail car is back in the custody of Union Pacific Railroad and no civilians or firefighters were injured in this incident.
2 Battalion Chiefs
1 HazMat Unit
1 HazMat Recon Unit
1 HazMat Coordinator
28 Total Personnel
Photos Courtesy of Dick Harris.