The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Hydrogen leak forces evacuations in Elmira

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  • A hydrogen leak forced the evacuation of multiple homes and businesses on Sullivan Street in Elmira on Wednesday morning.
    The leak was reported around 9:30 a.m. in a 6,000-gallon tank behind Airgas, located in the industrial park on Sullivan Street, said Capt. Bob Lutz of the Elmira Fire Department. A shutoff valve on the tank was faulty, Lutz said.
    A technician from a state hazardous materials unit was called in, and it was decided to let the hydrogen vent until technicians called by Airgas arrived from the Allentown, Pa., area to fix the problem, Lutz said.
    Hydrogen is highly flammable, but it was dissipating upward and wasn't posing a threat, Lutz said.
    The Elmira Fire Department remained on scene to monitor the leak and make sure the hydrogen didn't shift to ground levels where it could be ignited by a small spark, even a cell phone, he said.
    Everyone within 300 feet was evacuated, Lutz said. That included several nearby companies and some homes across the street. A section of Sullivan Street was closed to traffic.
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