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Chlorine Leaks at Cranberry Plant; 11 Treated At Hospital

March 5, 1986

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) _ Chlorine gas leaked from a tank Tuesday as workers at a cranberry juice plant were removing old equipment, forcing evacuation of a building and sending 11 people to hospitals, authorities said.

Four people remained hospitalized from inhaling chlorine gas at the Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. plant. None was in serious condition.

A 50-pound cylinder of chlorine began leaking at 8:45 a.m. as workmen were dismantling an unused water sanitizing system in a bottling building, said J.R. Kenny, Midwest Ocean Spray area manager.

″We don’t know exactly what the cause was, but during that removal there was a leak and it appears that part of a 50-pound cylinder was involved,″ Kenny said in a telephone interview.

Authorities said an open or faulty valve may have allowed about half the cylinder to leak, Kenny said. Chlorine was used to sanitize water in coolers, Kenny said.

Gas was still leaking when fire crews arrived and evacuated the building, one of three at the plant, said Assistant Kenosha Fire Chief Lloyd Casey. Kenny said he did not know how many of the plant’s 200 workers were evacuated.

Production at the bottling building was halted for about five hours while the facility was ventilated, but other parts of the operation continued, Kenny said.

Affected workers were on the floor above the leak and in adjacent areas, Kenny said.

One victim was in fair condition, and two were in good condition at Kenosha Memorial Hospital, said hospital spokesman Bob Riedl.

The fourth was in fair to good condition at Victory Memorial Hospital in Waukegon, Ill., across the state line from Kenosha, said nursing supervisor Ann Sosnoski.

The other seven, including a Kenosha firefighter, were treated at Memorial and released, Riedl said.

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