Chem Leak Hurts 15 in Terre Haute

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 @ 02:08 PM gHale

A chemical leak sent at least 15 people to the hospital for treatment before workers were able to stop it at a plant on Terre Haute, IN’s south side, officials said.

Sulfur dioxide leaked at Hydrite Chemical Co. Saturday night and winds carried fumes to nearby Hulman Mini Speedway, where a crowd was watching auto races, firefighters said.

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Between 200 to 300 people ended up evacuated from the area and some complained of respiratory problems, including difficulty breathing, nasal irritation, nausea and a metallic taste in their mouths.

“It felt like your throat got real tight,” said Caitlyn Chandler, whose brother ended up treated for chest pain, difficulty breathing and nausea.

Police reported no ongoing evacuations Sunday.

At the scene, first responders provided oxygen to some patients.

Terre Haute Regional Hospital received 15 patients complaining of symptoms related to the leak, hospital spokeswoman Ann Marie Foote said. Twelve ended up treated and released, while hospital officials admitted three for additional testing and treatment, she said.

No other businesses or homes evacuated, but police blocked access to the immediate area for several hours.

Joe Swan, a Terre Haute Fire Department spokesman, said the situation was under control by 10 p.m. Saturday, a little more than two hours after people first started calling 911.

“We believe Hydrite’s got everything shut down, and there’s no leak at this time,” Swan said.

Exposure to sulfur dioxide can cause “an array of adverse respiratory effects including bronchoconstriction and increased asthma symptoms,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.