UPDATE: Jacksonville public safety director says city working to confirm chemicals involved in spill

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Jacksonville’s public safety director tells WITN that their agency is working to confirm the chemicals involved in a water treatment plant spill that temporarily forced residents from an apartment complex.

WITN has asked the city’s public safety department why it would not share what the chemical was that was spilled.

Director of Public Safety Michael Yaniero responded to an email Tuesday evening saying that this is an evolving incident, “and until we have an opportunity to confirm the chemicals by inspecting the area where the incident occurred it would be premature to release the information at this time. “

Yaniero says once they confirm the chemicals involved the would respond to our request.

Yaniero says fire personnel are still at the scene and the chemical release is contained.

That evacuation order was lifted just before 5:00 p.m. for those living at Arlington West apartments on New Frontier Way.

The city originally didn’t say the spill happened at its treatment plant. Only when directly asked by WITN did a city spokeswoman confirm the spill occurred at their own facility.

Residents of the complex were also in the dark about was going on. “What was the reason for us to evacuate in the first place? I mean, tell me why I had to leave and I really would appreciate that,” said Adrian Paat, Arlington West resident. “And now, should I feel insecure, I mean thank God I got an air purifier in my apartment. But, you know, I got COPD and emphysema, so will that affect my health as well?”

In a news release late this afternoon, the city said it happened at a chemical storage tank and that the evacuation was done “in an abundance of caution as the chemicals naturally dissipate.”

Shortly before 5:00 p.m. a police officer told them it was now safe to return to their homes, and that authorities would continue to monitor air in the area.

The city says while they do not anticipate any changes, residents should be prepared “on the chance there may be a secondary evacuation.”