Hazmat Incident That Began in Hellertown Under Investigation

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Editor’s Note: This article has been updated.

WFMZ-TV Channel 69 News has reported that two Hazmat responses that occurred in Lehigh County Tuesday began in the “Hellertown area” when a J.P. Mascaro & Sons employee was splashed in his face and on his arm with some type of acid as recyclables were being compacted in the back of a company-owned garbage truck.

J.P. Mascaro & Sons is the contracted hauler for recycling in the borough of Hellertown, and was picking up recyclables on the north side of town Tuesday.

An article posted on WFMZ’s website indicated that the Mascaro employee was taken for treatment of chemical burns at the Cedar Crest Emergicenter in Salisbury Township–which ended up being evacuated as a precaution–while the garbage truck continued driving until it was stopped and examined by a Hazmat team near the intersection of Airport Road and City Line Avenue in Bethlehem.

An official quoted in the article said the employee was collecting garbage when he was burned, but Mascaro does not collect garbage in Hellertown.

According to an article published by the Express-Times, the item that exploded was picked up outside a home in the borough, although officials reportedly declined to identify the precise location.

Northampton County Emergency Management Director Bob Mateff said the substance was tested and found to have a pH of about zero, which means it had the equivalent acidity of hydrochloric acid, the article said.

Hellertown Borough Council president Tom Rieger confirmed Wednesday that it “looks like (the incident) might have started in the borough.”

He also confirmed that it is currently under investigation.

In early November, a borough teen suffered a serious chemical burn when he picked up a dark plastic bottle near the High Street Bridge, threw it into the air, and it exploded.

Inside the bottle was “pure acid” which splashed onto his face, the boy’s mother said in an impassioned letter to Saucon Source.

In the letter, Christina Reilley said authorities told her it was strongly suspected that the acid in the bottle was a “byproduct of meth production.”

Hellertown Police Chief Robert Shupp later confirmed Reilley’s version of events in an interview in which he explained that the investigation into the incident involving her son is being handled by Bethlehem authorities, since it occurred within their jurisdiction.

Shupp urged residents to call police if they find a plastic bottle filled with a liquid that appears to be suspicious.

It is unknown if the two recent incidents involving chemical burns are in any way related, or if they are in fact related to illegal meth-making.

However, borough resident Rick Baciocco expressed concern over the fact that Tuesday’s incident was “the second acid-induced injury linked to Hellertown in a few months.”

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