A chemical accident Tuesday afternoon has shut down one of the two water treatment plants that serve Minneapolis.
A worker at the Columbia Heights water treatment plant accidentally combined hydrochloric acid with caustic soda. The chemicals are used to clean the water filters.
Anyone who's poured vinegar on baking soda knows the results of mixing an acid and a base. That's what happened at the treatment plant — but on a larger scale.
The mess was contained and nobody was hurt, Minneapolis Water Treatment Director Bernie Bullert said, but the reaction set off fire sprinklers. Bullert said the plant will be out of service for a few days while staff investigate how the chemicals got mixed.
"We're going to have to investigate exactly what procedures broke down," he said. "They got together and they shouldn't have been."
The water is safe in Minneapolis and the suburbs the plant serves. The main treatment plant in Fridley is operating, so customers should see no change in service.
"We've got to make sure our equipment is all fine and check our procedures with what went on," Bullert said. "Hopefully it won't be very long. But in the next few days we'll be going in a little deeper to check out what happened."