Jacksonville residents speak on evacuation after chemicals mistakenly mixed

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Multiple crews were on scene near the water treatment plant in Jacksonville on New Frontier Way most of the day since the chemical mishap Tuesday.

Jacksonville Public Safety says zinc orthophosphate was mistakenly put into a storage tank containing sulfuric acid at the city’s water treatment plant.

It forced residents at Arlington West apartments to evacuate for safety precautions.

“We got an email first from the apartment complex and then a knock on the door from the police department saying that we needed to evacuate,” said Jacksonville Resident, Stephanie Gibbs.

The city says the evacuation was out of an abundance of caution after it was discovered that two chemicals used in the water treatment process had been unintentionally mixed by a private transport contractor.

“Right now, it’s isolated, and we’re not gonna risk people’s lives to go in there unless we absolutely have to,” said Jacksonville Police Chief Mike Janeiro.

Gibbs and the others who evacuated have been allowed to return and were told that the water is safe to drink. At this point, she says she’s not too concerned about it.

“No, not really because I didn’t see anyone with any kind of protective gear or anything like that on, so I didn’t think it was anything,” said Gibbs.

The city says that there are “no health hazards to the general public” and that the city’s water system has not been impacted.