Leak of highly toxic chemical gas causes road closure in Hsinchu County

Firefighters closed a section of road in Hsinchu County for three hours after a gas cylinder being transported from the Hsinchu Science Park caught fire while leaking highly volatile silane gas today, January 26.

The Hsinchu County Fire Bureau received a report that a gas cylinder on a truck was emitting flame, and thick, yellow smoke on Shuangyuan Road in Baoshan Township at 8:54 am.

Fire fighters sprayed water on the cylinder, while police closed pedestrian and vehicular traffic in both directions.

Personnel from Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Agency Toxic and Chemical Substances Bureau, and Hsinchu Science Park’s Environmental Safety Group were dispatched to the scene to assist and supervise operations.

Hsinchu County Environmental Protection Bureau personnel monitored air quality around the site of the accident.

Fortunately, the cylinder did not explode, or set other cylinders on fire, and the gas eventually burned out after around three hours.

The 30 mostly empty gas cylinders were being transported by Jing He Science company after being recovered from a client in the Hsinchu Science Park.

Silane gas is a precursor to elemental silicon and is used in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. The gas ignites spontaneously in contact with air, is very toxic if inhaled, and is a strong irritant to skin, eyes and mucous membranes.

A preliminary investigation suggests that the cap over the cylinder valve was not properly locked, and that the cap knocking on the valve knob during transportation caused the valve to open. This resulted in an accumulation of silane gas inside the cap.

Silane gas cylinders are checked before re-transportation.

Information compiled from reports in United Daily News, and Liberty Times.

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