Gloucester company involved in hazmat incident had prior safety issues


by Nick Ochsner, 13News Now

Posted on July 18, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 18 at 6:01 PM

Gloucester Hazmat

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GLOUCESTER CO.-- A 13News Now investigation is uncovering new information about safety concerns at Advanced Finishing Systems, Inc. in Gloucester County.

Acid vapors leaked from a holding tank at the business on Wednesday and prompted a massive hazardous materials response.

According to Herb Austin, an assistant chief with the Abingdon Volunteer Fire Department, fire crews have responded to Advanced Finishing Systems six times for fires since 2000.

Austin says each response was for a fire that was sparked in the heating system, which is used to heat the acid used in metal plating and finishing.

Wednesday's leak was caused by a malfunction in the thermostat used to regulate the heating system.

"The heater itself didn't malfunction, but the controls for it did," Austin explained.

Austin, who is also the Gloucester County Hazmat Coordinator, said parts that have malfunctioned in the past have been examined by an engineer to determine the cause of the problem.

Until the part that malfunctioned Wednesday morning can be examined, Austin says it is too soon to know whether or not yesterday's leak could have been prevented.