2 Kansas Companies Indicted Over Noxious Chemical Cloud

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — Two companies have been indicted on federal charges after a 2016 mistake at a northeast Kansas distilling plant released a noxious cloud of fumes that prosecutors say caused more than 140 people to seek medical treatment.

The U.S. attorney’s office announced Wednesday that Midwest Grain Products Inc., of Atchison, Kansas, and Harcros Chemicals Inc., of Kansas City, Kansas, are charged with Clean Air Act violations that put the public in danger.

The indictment alleges that the chlorine gas cloud formed after a driver for Harcros pulled a truck into Midwest Grain’s facility in Atchison to deliver sulfuric acid. An operator for Midwest Grain helped the driver access the transfer equipment. When the driver mistakenly connected the sulfuric acid line to the sodium hypochlorite line, toxic gas began to form.

The parent company of Midwest Grain Products, MGPI Processing Inc., said in a statement that it is reviewing the allegations and has been “cooperating fully with safety officials since this incident.”