Judge orders Belding manufacturer to cease operations

Aerial view of KMI, 7-18-2019

IONIA, Mich. — An Ionia County judge has ordered a Belding chlorine-tablet manufacturer to cease operations following the recent release of toxic gas at the factory.

The decision came after Ionia County Health Department Officer Ken Bowen filed a temporary restraining order against Kassouni Manufacturing Inc., KMI, following a July 19 dumpster fire on the property.

There weren’t any harmful chemicals released in that fire, but in a June 22 incident gas containing trichloroisocyanuric acid, a potentially deadly chemical, was released. Ionia County emergency management brought in various state and federal agencies to investigate after the fire.

Health department officials also went door to door around Belding after a June 18 fire at the facility asking if residents had experienced any side effects to chemical exposure.

Earlier this month, the Ionia County Health Department issued an imminent danger order related to trichloroisocyanuric acid, a highly toxic chemical that is flammable when mixed with water.

The county says about 200,000 pounds of the chemical are stored on site, and the chlorine gas that can be released is deadly to humans.

An inspection determined the roof at KMI is in poor condition with holes that allow rain water to get inside, posing a risk of contamination for people who live nearby.

Modeling by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency estimates that if a significant amount of water contacted the tricholorisocyanuric acid, between 136 and 470 people in the surrounding area could be killed by inhaling chlorine gas.

The next hearing on the matter has been postponed until sometime next month.

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