UPDATE: Sulfur dioxide leak at Albermarle 'cleared up'

UPDATE 8:12 p.m.: The Columbia County Sheriff's Office announced that the leak has been cleared up. 

"Everything is cleared up, and the highway and affected roads are open for travel. Thank you for your understanding," the CCSO's updated release states. 


UPDATE 6:55 p.m.: Tina Owens, a public information officer at the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, said the chemical leaking at Albermarle was sulfur dioxide.  

“Right now, we just know it was a release from a tank car staging area at the facility,” Owens said.

Owens said she did not know whether the chemical was still leaking or not as of 6:50 p.m. Wednesday. She said the situation at Albermarle was “ongoing.” No injuries, fires or evacuations have been reported as resulting from the leak, she said.

Emergency management coordinators are at Albermarle considering how to remediate – remedy – the situation.

“Normally the companies in the area will determine their own remediation teams. (Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality) has been notified, but I don’t know how they’ll play a part in (remediation),” Owens said.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide "can harm the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult." At high concentrations, gaseous sulfur oxides "can harm trees and plants by damaging foliage and decreasing growth" and "can contribute to acid rain."


UPDATE 6:45 p.m.: Columbia County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Taylor said his office was on the scene. 

"Albemarle has the fine details right now but, we have a few deputies and OEM coordinators over there but right now we are waiting to hear more from the plant and see if we can give an all clear soon," Taylor said. 

A security officer at Albermarle declined to share any details about the chemical leak. She said local residents should contact Taylor or the Columbia County Sheriff's Office for information about the leak.


Traffic has been shut down on Highway 79 due to a chemical release at the Albermarle - South Plant, according to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

The CCSO reported that the chemical is moving north. The chemical can cause skin irritation or rash, and possibly blindness. Residents in the area should exercise caution. 

A team is coming to address the leak, according to the CCSO. 

This is a developing story. The Banner News will provide more information as it becomes available.