An investigation was under way in Escondido Tuesday to determine what caused about 15,000 gallons of lye to spill at a water-filtration complex near Lake Dixon and into a nearby canyon.
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The hazardous material release at the plant north of El Norte Parkway was reported about 4 p.m. Monday, Escondido city spokeswoman Joyce Masterson said. The accident did not force any public evacuations but did necessitate a large-scale cleanup of the caustic chemical, she said.
Crews discovered sodium hydroxide, commonly known as lye, leaking out of two malfunctioning 15,000-gallon storage tanks, according to Masterson. About half the spill pooled in a safe containment area, but the rest coursed down a driveway and flowed into a nearby gorge.
Firefighters created a makeshift dike around the dirt area into which the chemical drained, and county hazardous materials personnel were working to determine how best to clean up the substance.
Sodium hydroxide is stored at the plant as a safety precaution, Masterson said. In case of a spill of chlorine, another caustic chemical used at the facility, lye can be combined with it, creating harmless table salt, she said.
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