As we reported as the story was breaking on December 29, 2011 at 5:58 PM, the Fairfield Fire Department was dispatched to a report of an outside chemical spill at General Electric Headquarters located at 3135 Easton Turnpike. A worker observed a large amount of fluid coming from one of the buildings and reported the problem to GE security. In accordance with local and state protocols, GE activated their emergency response plan and notified the Fairfield Fire Department and Connecticut DEEP of the spill.
Upon arrival, the first fire units were notified that approximately 500 gallons of diluted heat transfer fluid from the buildings utilities had accidentally leaked from a broken pipe and entered the storm drainage system. The liquid traveled through exterior drains to outside areas on the property. The product, called DOWFROST, is NOT considered a Hazardous Chemical according to OSHA standard 1910.1200 and is “practically non toxic to aquatic organisms” per the DOW Chemical Company’s material safety data sheet. Fire personnel quickly worked to minimize the spread of the spill by constructing dams to contain the product and minimize environmental exposure. Cleanup contractors were called to the site by GE with vacuum trucks as a precaution to remove the product for proper disposal. Fairfield Engines 2, 3, 5, HAZMAT support trailer 1 the department’s shift commander responded to the scene. A Connecticut DEEP officer was also on site.
Assistant Chief Scott Bisson stated, “Due to the non-hazardous nature of the materials involved, this situation was ultimately a good test of GE’s and the Fairfield Fire Department’s hazardous materials response partnership.” Bisson further stated, “The product was contained on GE’s property and GE’s neighbors were not at risk during the incident.”
There were no injuries of employees or fire personnel as a result of the incident. Normal business operations at the facility should not be impacted by the cleanup and there were no evacuations required. The last fire unit cleared the scene at 7:42 PM.