30 Hospitalized After Hazmat Response at E-Cigarette Plant

An investigation is underway after 30 people were taken to the hospital following a large hazmat team response to a Massachusetts e-cigarette plant Sunday night.

The hazmat response at 1 Technology Way in Salem ended around 2:30 a.m. Monday, after initially responding to a call late Sunday afternoon and then again Sunday evening around 9:30 p.m.

The initial call came in for what appeared to be a chlorine leak inside Thermal Circuits and the building was evacuated as hazmat crews and firefighters responded.

Salem Deputy Fire Chief Alan Dionne said the first incident lasted four hours and concluded around 8 p.m. when the building was declared safe to re-enter.

Once the scene was cleared, employees on the second shift were allowed inside.

But around 9:30 p.m., workers began complaining of nausea and vomiting, saying they weren't feeling well. Multiple workers exited the building at that time and there seemed to be an extreme panic, according to Dionne.

The hazmat team determined that the illness that workers were experiencing was not related to the earlier chlorine leak. Officials said the odor that employees were experiencing was traced to new carpeting being installed in the building, but no hazardous or dangerous readings were detected.

Multiple patients were located upon arrival, and the Salem Fire Department set up numerous units on scene with a staging area near Salem Hospital.

Twenty patients were being treated by the Salem Hospital emergency room staff, according to a tweet from the North Shore Medical Center late Sunday night.

Salem Hospital said some patients were taken to the hospital by paramedics from the scene, while others were walk-ins. In all, 15 employees were taken to hospitals by paramedics, while 15 others took themselves to the hospital.

Multiple patients complained of burning eyes and difficulty breathing.

A regional hazmat team will go back into the building, which will not be open on Monday. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency, along with an industrial hygienist, will be on site.

The city of Salem said the issue wass contained to the inside of the building.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing. The building is expected to remain closed through Monday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us