Chemical Accident at Vegetable Plant

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 @ 10:06 AM gHale

A chemical accident at a vegetable plant near Rebecca, GA, left at least 19 people suffering from inhalation injuries last week.

Tift Regional Hospital said only one patient ended up admitted and was in good condition last Thursday. All the others have ended up treated and released.

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The incident started when an employee was putting acid reducer into a bucket, unaware it was partially filled with chlorine, said EMA Director Robby Royal.

He said employees began to feel sick.

“Employees actually got nauseous, starting throwing up,” Royal said. “It’s kind of like a chain reaction; folks see that they start getting scared.”

The Turner County Fire Department HazMat team ended up called to the scene.

Joy Davis with Community and Outreach at Tift Regional Medical Center said 19 patients ended up decontaminated and are in good condition.

The hospital brought in their emergency response team to handle the case, something they had trained for last year.

She said the exposure to chlorine gas was in an enclosed area and there is no threat to the surrounding community.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, chlorine is a highly reactive gas element.

Chlorine is usually only in industrial settings. Chlorine enters the body breathed in with contaminated air or when consumed with contaminated food or water.

Breathing chlorine adversely affects the human respiratory system. Effects range from coughing and chest pain to water retention in the lungs. Chlorine irritates the skin, the eyes, and the respiratory system.

High levels of chlorine may produce mild mucous membrane irritation, chest pain, vomiting, cough, toxic pneumonitis, and pulmonary edema.

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