Company boss reports – Orange cloud: ‘I almost got hit’

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A chemical reaction triggered a large-scale operation in Ragnitz in southern Styria on Tuesday morning: an orange-red cloud came out, residents had to stay in their homes. How it came about and why everyone finally breathed a sigh of relief.

“I was almost shocked when I saw the many fire trucks.” After the great excitement had subsided, Siegfried Tieber could hear a deep breath. He heads the Niro Expert company in Ragnitz in southern Styria (Leibnitz district). On Tuesday morning, an orange-red cloud moved from the business premises above the Badendorf district. An employee of a neighboring company was the first to sound the alarm – a large-scale operation was the result!

Firefighters entered the hall with heavy breathing equipment, police drove through the village and asked residents via loudspeaker to stay in the houses and close the windows. “Road closures were not necessary, it is very rural there,” says police spokesman Markus Lamb.

What happened during pickling?
If poisonous nitric acid was initially feared, everything was released after two hours: it was a harmless gas mixture that quickly evaporated. How could this happen? In the company, founded in 2015, stainless steel surfaces are cleaned for large industrial customers and the parts are placed in a tub with pickling agent. “Our stains are very mild, so the process takes up to 48 hours,” explains Tieber.

So even all night if no employees are on site. That was the case from Monday to Tuesday. Exactly how the chemical reaction and the escape of gas came about has yet to be elucidated. Tieber suspects that the steel parts were contaminated. And the reddish color? It’s probably because of the rust.

The balance: no injuries, no damage and there has probably never been a dangerous situation. Mayor Manfred Sunko, who also pays tribute, is all the more relieved: “The interaction between the aid organizations worked extremely well.”

“I don’t need this anymore”
In the afternoon Niro Expert went back to work normally. However, just to be sure, Tieber has the pickling tank exchanged: “I don’t need it anymore.”

Source: Krone

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