LUS crews will continue cleaning hydrated lime; affected residents can head back home

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Residents in one Lafayette neighborhood have been given the all clear to return home.
They were forced to evacuate their homes Sunday because of a hydrated lime release by Lafayette Utilities System.

– The evacuation order was put into effect Sunday night, and was lifted at 4:00 Monday afternoon.
– Hydrated lime was released from the LUS North Water Plant Sunday morning, causing a cloud of the material to spread over the area, covering nearby roofs and structures.
– LUS officials say the situation was handled by neutralizing the hydrated lime residue, and cleaning off several buildings, streets and cars.
– The 100 and 200 block of Buchanan Street will remain closed to through traffic during the clean up process as of now.
– LUS officials is no public safety concern for the remainder of this process.

However, one resident wants to make sure they keep cleaning the affected areas, until all the hydrated lime is gone.

“Look at the windows, it’s still on there.”

William Broussard lives on Bragg Street near the LUS North Water Plant.
When he woke up on Sunday…

“Looked at my car in the morning and I thought it was snowing,” said Broussard.

He’s one of the few residents that were forced to evacuate Sunday evening due to a chemical spill by LUS.

“Look at the tree. The tree still all white. They (LUS) didn’t do nothing to the roof. It’s still about the same thing,” said Broussard.

“We (LUS officials) neutralized the hydrated lime residue, and then we did clear off several buildings, cars, and then we cleared off the streets as well,” said Simone Sonnier with LUS.

“It’s (hydrated lime) not something you want to play with your bare hands and so forth, or breathe it in,” said Eric Taylor, Associate Professor of Chemistry at UL Lafayette.

He says the hydrated lime is a compound, a substance made of 2 or more elements.
 
“Calcium and oxygen are the principal components. If it’s the hydrated form, it would also have reacted with water, so now it has calcium, oxygen and hydrogen,” said Taylor.

The white powdery substance can cause eye, skin and respiratory irritations.

But a local doctor says she doesn’t believe the substance is deadly for residents.

“One of the things in particular that may linger is some chest congestion, some cough. So it’s one of those times where if it’s manageable the body can handle it, but if you’re noticing that worsening, tightness, shortness of breath, that would be a concern,” said Nichole Miller, an Urgent Care physician with Lafayette General.

As for Broussard, he’s just happy to be back at his house.

“Motels, I don’t like to stay out there or mess around. I like to be home,” he said.

LUS officials tell KLFY will have more crews out cleaning any remaining areas that have the substance on them tomorrow.

Residents within the evacuation area are urged to change their HVAC filters upon returning home.

Monday afternoon, LUS’ Interim Executive Director Jeff Stewart issued a statement: 
“As soon as the incident occurred, all proper state and local parties were notified. The situation was immediately assessed and a plan was then put into place.  Our actions were always focused on the safety and concern of the citizens in the affected areas.” 

LUS officials say anyone who is exposed to the hydrated lime to wash themselves and their clothes thoroughly with water.

If you still have concerns, you can contact Simone Sonnier with Lafayette Utilities System at (337) 339-4287

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