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Roberta shelter-in-place ended after chemical reaction at plant

The EMA director says a reaction at the Olin Epoxy plant was releasing dangerous chemicals into the air

ROBERTA, Ga. — People in Crawford County are no longer under a shelter-in-place order after a reaction at the Olin Chemical Plant Thursday morning.

The county's emergency management office sent out alerts saying people around Roberta should shelter in place.

"My wife texted me. She said they had some kind of 'code red stay-at-home order,'" said Ejay Freeman, who lives in Roberta.

He says he appreciates the way the county handled it. 

"I just think it's pretty cool that they did that just to make sure the residents are safe. I rather for them to be safe than sorry," Freeman said.

Officials asked people to shelter due to an odor that was headed from the plant into the city, caused by what EMA director Rick Sharon calls an unexpected chemical reaction.

"An incorrect reaction is taking place in the tank, causing it to heat up, and then we have the release again, and we're waiting for everything to cool back down," Sharon explained.

Sharon says the chemicals involved are part of a mix that makes epoxy resin used to make the lines on roadways and bridges.

"Every 15 minutes, they stop the water to see if the reaction is stopping, and so far, it is not. Once we stop that, then the temperature goes back up again," said Sharon.

According to Sharon, his team has prepared for an event like this.

"We exercise and we train with their chemical, with their folks inside. We do prepare, but you can always have the unexpected things occur," he said.

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