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March 10. 2014 9:52AM

Chemical spill in Newington business sends 6 to the hospital

NEWINGTON – One person suffered a chemical burn and five others had trouble breathing after a "minimal amount" of thionyl chloride spilled outside a plant on Shattuck Way Monday.

Police, firefighters and emergency personnel responded at 8:45 a.m. after receiving a report of a "hazardous materials incident" at Tradebe Treatment and Recycling Northeast LLC, located at 410 Shattuck Way, Monday.

"A male employee was complaining of burns to his lap area from an unknown substance that had spilled on him," according to a release by firefighters.

Firefighters, who arrived at the scene within three minutes, immediately placed the man into a decontamination shower to remove or reduce the exposure to the substance, which was identified with the assistance from the ChemTrec network as thionyl chloride.

"The spill occurred outside and was contained to the immediate area," according to firefighters.

Assistant Fire Chief Jeffrey LeDuc said a "residual amount" of the toxic chemical spilled on to the man while employees were crushing an empty 55-gallon drum.

LeDuc said the nearby building was evacuated, but he was not sure how many employees were inside it at the time of the spill.
Firefighters said they treated six other employees who were "complaining of throat and breathing irritation." As a result, ambulance crews from Dover and Portsmouth were called to assist at the scene, according to firefighters.

As a result, six people were sent to Portsmouth Hospital for non-life threatening injuries while one person refused transport, according to LeDuc.

Leduc, who stressed there was no danger to the public, said firefighters were contacted by members of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The incident is also under investigation by representatives from Tradebe. The company, which disposes of chemicals, cleaned up the spill.

Thionyl chloride is a non-combustible, colorless to yellow to reddish liquid which has a pungent odor similar to sulfur dioxide. It reacts violently with water to form sulfur dioxide and hydrogen chloride, according to the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Upon contact, thionyl chloride can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes; could burn eyes or skin and cause respiratory issues, according to www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0611.html.




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