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3 Airport Workers Sickened by Odor

August 11, 2006

HOUSTON (AP) _ Three airport workers were sickened Friday by the odor of a liquid that spilled in the cargo hold of a Continental Airlines plane, officials said.

A hazardous materials unit from the Houston Fire Department found a drop of liquid on a U.S. postal service box on the plane at Bush Intercontinental Airport. The liquid, which was slightly acidic, was run through a database but no match was found, District Chief Tommy Dowdy said.

Preliminary tests showed the liquid was not radioactive or flammable, officials said.

Firefighters were called to the airport at 8:45 a.m. after three baggage workers unloading the cargo hold became sick from the odor. The plane had arrived about 8 a.m. from Fort Myers, Fla.

The workers were given an eye wash at a Continental clinic at the airport and then released, airline spokesman David Messing said. Two of the employees went back to work.

No passengers were affected by the odor, officials said.

Dowdy thinks the workers may have overreacted considering the heightened security at the nation’s airports after authorities discovered a plot Thursday to blow up airliners headed to the United States.

``We wrote it off as maybe hypersensitivity to what was going on,″ Dowdy said. ``We’re glad to have them overreact,″ he said.

Authorities cleared the plane, allowing it to be put back into service, Messing said.

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