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11 Injured in Hospital Chemical Spill

June 28, 1985

VALENCIA, Calif. (AP) _ A toxic and highly flammable chemical leaked from its container in a hospital basement Thursday, slightly injuring 11 people and forcing a partial evacuation of the building, firefighters said.

Eleven people had to be decontaminated by firefighters after being exposed to ethylene oxide, a sterilizing agent that is so flammable it can explode, said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Mike Pierson.

He said the chemical apparently leaked from a container in the basement of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital shortly after 2 p.m. Firefighters evacuated part of the hospital 30 miles north of Los Angeles, but all patients and personnel returned about an hour later, Pierson said.

The 11 victims, who had been exposed directly to the chemical in the hospital’s basement, reported feeling nauseous from breathing the fumes, Pierson said. Some also got the chemical, which can cause burns, on their clothing, he said.

They were decontaminated by being scrubbed down with soap and water in a series of three tubs, then checked with a device that can determine if the chemical is still present, Pierson said.

The cause of the spill was under investigation.

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