"South Korean Chemical Plant Spill Labeled 'Special Disaster Zone'"

"The South Korean government on Monday designated the area around a chemical spill in the southeastern city of Gumi a special disaster zone, after more than 3,000 people were injured. On 27 September, an explosion at the Hube Globe chemical plant released about eight tonnes of hydrofluoric acid, which can damage lungs and bones and affect the nervous system. The leak killed five workers and injured 18 others, according to the state-run Yonhap news agency."

"The secondary damage has been aggressive and fast spreading.

Nearly 3,200 people have been treated for nausea, chest pain, rashes and sore eyes after inhaling toxic fumes, and the leak has also damaged crops and livestock. Some have accused the government of botching the response to the accident. Firefighters failed to use calcium hydroxide, the neutralizing agent for hydrofluoric acid, and the local authorities were slow to evacuate workers at the factory and residents in nearby regions."

Brian Owens reports for Nature News October 8, 2012.
 

Source: Nature, 10/09/2012