UPDATE: Kern County Fire lifts evacuation, shelter in place recommendations for Taft chemical leak

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UPDATE (7:30 p.m.): Kern County Fire confirmed it has contained the acrolein chemical leak and has lifted evacuation and shelter in place recommendations for surrounding Taft residents.

At a press conference Wednesday evening, officials said they received a call about a leak at around 9:40 a.m. from the Taft Manufacturing Facility on South Lake Road near Taft. Officials said a caller told dispatchers about 16 ounces of a chemical from a container was leaking.

Red Cross officials said they have closed an evacuation center used in response to the chemical leak.

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UPDATE (3:40 p.m.): Kern County Fire confirmed the chemical that caused an evacuation at the Taft Manufacturing Facility was acrolein and that the cause of its leak is still under investigation.

Multiple agencies including county health, and hazmat crews from the Bakersfield Fire Department were called to assist.

The chemical acrolein is a pesticide and capable of being inhaled when released into the air. Out of an abundance of caution, Kern County Fire evacuated a six mile radius surrounding the facility.

Kern County Fire Public Information Officer Andrew Freeborn credited the department’s planning for knowledge of potential chemicals that could be located at the facility. Freeborn said that knowledge helped in dealing with the leak.

Evacuations are still in effect as county health officials continue to secure the leak and monitor the air for any remaining hazardous pesticide levels.

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UPDATE (2:49 p.m.) According to data from the California Office of Emergency Services, a large container that had been shipped in from overseas was received in “leaking” condition by the Taft Manufacturing Co.

In related news, the Wind Wolves Preserve has confirmed that it is closed for the rest of the day due to the leak.

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UPDATE (2:01 p.m.) Kern County Fire personnel is expected to hold a press conference at 3 p.m. at the intersection of Millux and Hill roads in Taft. KGET will stream the press conference here and on Facebook.

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UPDATE (1:19 p.m.): The Kern County Fire Department says it has identified the source of the chemical leak and have stopped it. Firefighters are still on scene working to neutralize the chemical.

Acrolein is used as an intermediate in the synthesis of acrylic acid and as a biocide. According to the National Institute of Health, acrolein is a very toxic substance and is considered an environmental hazard.

In addition, the CHP said it is not allowing traffic to come into the evacuation area. The Taft City School District has confirmed that it has decided to let all of its students leave in light of the evacuation order.

The Lakeside Union School District said it is also currently in shelter in place.

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UPDATE: The department is advising evacuations for people who live or work within six miles of the spill site.

If you live or work beyond six and up to nine miles of this location, it is recommend that you shelter in place, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said. The department recommends that residents close all their doors and windows, shut off their central air systems and close fireplace vents.

An evacuation center has been set up by the American Red Cross at First Baptist Church, located at 220 N. First St.

TAFT, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County Fire Department is responding to a chemical spill near Taft. 

The department said the hazardous materials spill occurred at Taft Manufacturing Co., located at 19705 S. Lake Road. Employees have been evacuated from the plant.

Taft Manufacturing Co. employees are evacuated from its plant near Taft. Courtesy of the Kern County Fire Department.

According to Taft Mayor Dave Noerr, the chemical acrolein was accidentally released at the plant. The chemical is used as an intermediate in the synthesis of acrylic acid and as a biocide.

Acrolien vapor may cause eye, nasal and respiratory tract irritations.

Taft College has ordered students to go home due to the spill, the college confirmed.

Taft Union High School and all schools in the Taft City School District said they are in “shelter in place” for student and staff safety. “Shelter in place” means they have found a safe location indoors and are staying there until they are given an all-clear or ordered to evacuate.

The road was closed at the intersection around 10 a.m. and motorists are encouraged to use an alternate route, according to the county.

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