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Posted on Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 10:20 a.m.

Hazmat crew stops chemical reaction causing acidic vapor cloud in Pittsfield Township

By Kyle Feldscher

A violent chemical reaction forced three people to evacuate a business in Pittsfield Township early Wednesday morning.

Pittsfield Township firefighters responded to a report of smoke coming from Pacific Industrial Development, 4788 Runway Blvd., at 12:13 a.m. Wednesday. Upon arrival, firefighters quickly found the smoke was actually an acidic vapor caused by the mixture of two chemicals, neodymium oxide and nitric acid.

The Washtenaw County Hazardous Materials Response Team was called and, using chemical protective equipment, cooled the 100-gallon container with about 35 gallons of the solution inside to the point where the reaction stopped.

One of the three employees at the business, which makes specialty chemicals and nanomaterials used in pollution and emissions-control devices, was exposed to the vapor but was wearing chemical protective clothing and a respirator, escaping injury, firefighters said in a press release.

There will be no lasting effects to the environment or area around the building, Pittsfield Township Fire Chief Sean Gleason said Wednesday morning.

Workers were making the solution as a part of a research project, said Bill Germond, vice president of PIDC. The amount of nitric acid released was very small, even though it appeared along with a large cloud of steam, he said.

Researchers had previously made a small amount of the solution in laboratories, but when it was made in the larger tank, the reaction was bigger than expected, Germond said. It was the first time the company has needed the hazmat team’s assistance with a reaction.

“The amount of acid released would be way below any recordable levels,” he said. “It looks really big because of the steam and moisture going up, but it was not a significant amount of nitric acid.”

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Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Madeleine Borthwick

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.



Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Cut the pay, benefits and pensions of these hazmat workers. They are clearly greedy, according to prevalent political theory.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

Nothing like a little excitement in Ann Arbor! Was it a Meth Lab?

Thinking over here

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

Will they be billed for the response? Seems like they should be.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:04 a.m.

Unless they did something malicious or grossly negligent, why should they be billed? If your house catches fire and the fire dept. comes to put it out, should you be billed ? If somebody broadsides you in an intersection and the police and fire depts. respond, should you be billed? Isn't that what people and companies pay taxes for?


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

The Washtenaw County Hazardous Materials Response Team I belive does do cost recovery for this kind of stuff.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

why would they be billed for the response? did the expressway camp tent city get billed for the fire they had?

Ron Granger

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

It reads like they may have been trying to emulate something they saw in an episode of Breaking Bad. "Yo! We gotta cook!" Or maybe something you'd see in a youtube video. Was there a licensed chemist or engineer involved? Do they have any nearby neighbors?

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

i'm not a licensed chemist, but i do play one on tv.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

Licensed? Who licenses chemists?