Taft was given "shelter in place" recommendation. TC chooses to evacuate. Leak was isolated by afternoon
A six-mile evacuation zone has been established around a chemical spill at a manufacturing plant on South Lake Road.
The evacuation area doesn't affect Taft, but both the Kern County Fire Department and Sheriff recommended people in the Taft area shelter in place.
Taft College declared an emergency, closed the campus and sent all its students and staff home.
The college administration alerted the campus community through email.
"This is an Evacuation Alert. A campus emergency has been declared," the message stated. "Students, faculty and staff are recommended to immediately evacuate. We are closing the Taft College campus due to a reported chemical leak on S. Lake Road. Please check the Taft College website for further updates in regards to reopening the campus."
Other Taft schools remained in session but are taking precautions.
the Taft City School District had students sheltering in place.
The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at the First Baptist Church, 220 North Street, offering drinks, snacks and chair to anyone who needs it.
Elk Hills School announced that it would not being making bus runs to return students to Taft Wednesday afternoon.
The leak was reported at 9:40 a.m. at Taft Manufacturing at 19705 South Lake Road, about 12 miles east of Taft.
The leak prompted a massive response from first responders including firefighters, hazardous materials teams and law enforcement.
No injuries have been reported.
At first, emergency crews weren't sure if they were dealing with a spill or an ongoing leak, with an ongoing leak making the situation much more serious.
The County opened its emergency operations center and the EOC sent notices to areas near the spill, including the City of Taft.
City officials relayed information to the schools.
City Manager Craig Jones said the chemical, acrolein, is highly toxic.
"Its bad stuff, and even in small concentrations it can kill," he said.
Acrolein is used in oilfield operations.
Jones said that, given the facts, it was better for the city to err on the side of caution.
Shortly after first responders arrived the area was blocked off and South Lake Road was closed at Gardner Field Road on the south side and the intersection of Hill and Millux to the north.
By 1 p.m., Jones said the city was notified by the Kern EOC confirmed that a small leak had been isolated and the Kern County Department of Environmental Health recommended the evacuations and shelter in place advisories should remain in effect until all of the chemical is removed.