-- Residents of Atchinson County, Kansas, were told to shelter in place this morning after a chemical spill in the area forced evacuations and sent several individuals to the hospital.
The spill, which happened shortly after 8 a.m. local time, covers a 4-block radius near Main Street, according to officials from the Atchinson County Emergency Management Agency.
"At 8:02 this morning two chemicals were inadvertently mixed together at MGP," said Trey Cocking, public information officer for the city of Atchinson. "That caused a gaseous plume to develop. That plume covered good portions of the city of Atchinson [and] we have 18 people being treated for respiratory discomfort."
MGP Ingredients is a supplier of premium distilled spirits and specialty wheat proteins and starches.
Of the 18 people who were treated in the hospital for respiratory issues, five are city employees.
"All injuries are minor, they are being kept for observation," Cocking told reporters at a press conference.
Chemicals were mixed together "inadvertently in the delivery process" when one chemical was put in the wrong holding tank, according to Cocker. It was not clear which two chemicals had been mixed.
Cocking said that by 11 a.m. local time the heavy plume had mostly lifted.
"Right now the cloud has dissipated, we're beginning to assess the situation," Cocking said, adding that local government officials were still waiting on state and federal officials to respond.
Thousands of students at local schools were evacuated in addition to staff at the county courthouse. By 11 a.m. officials from the Emergency management Services said students were returning to the schools as the plume continued to dissipate.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.