Mushroom Plant Chem Spill Injures 12

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 @ 11:09 AM gHale

Chester County HazMat crews prepare to decontaminate a patient injured by an acid spill at Kaolin Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square, PA. The injured came to the decontamination station and then scrubbed by teams to remove any residual chemical from their clothing and skin.

A chemical spill injured 12 people at the Kaolin Mushroom Farms Inc. in Kennett Square, PA, Sept. 20, officials said.

The mushroom processing facility ended up evacuated immediately following the spill. Those sickened by the fumes ended up treated at a decontamination station at Washington and Cypress streets and were thoroughly scrubbed down before being transported to the hospital.

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The Chester County Hazardous Materials Unit responded immediately to the scene. Firefighters built the decontamination station using tarps, hoses and dirt from a construction site. They used soap and water to scrub the patients who disrobed. Contaminated water was contained in the decontamination area.

After being decontaminated, those sickened were transported to Crozer-Chester Hospital and Jennersville Regional Hospital. The injuries were non-life-threatening.

The mishap occurred after a chemical, which is kept in a barrel-type container attached to a spigot, apparently spilled or leaked. The chemical, peracetic acid, cleans and disinfects mushrooms.

Immediately after the spill, officials said they evacuated the building and any structure attached to it, and employees who were not sickened were sent home. A spill of this type has never happened at the facility before, officials said.

Evacuations were contained to the mushroom processing facility.

Officials contacted administrators at Kennett Consolidated School District to apprise them of the situation.

Kaolin Mushroom Farm released the following statement:

“At approximately 11:45 a.m. today at our Kennett Square, Pennsylvania facility, an incident occurred where areas were evacuated due to a possible spill of peracetic acid in one of our mushroom wash areas. This product is commonly used in the food industry as a cleanser and disinfectant. Nine employees were treated on-site for possible exposure and transferred to local area hospitals for observation and treatment if required. The company’s first priority is to its employees and surrounding communities. Local HazMat teams are on-site conducting a thorough review.”

Four months ago, Kennett Fire crews trained with the Chester County Hazmat Team to simulate a chlorine leak response, said Chris Plumley, Kennett Fire Co. No. 1 fire chief. He said crews worked together to mitigate the simulation and firefighters learned a great deal.

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