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Workers, Firefighters Treated In Chemical Accident

February 18, 1991

SOUTH CONNELLSVILLE, Pa. (AP) _ A chemical cloud formed in a plant early this morning after an accident in a mixing room, exposing more than 90 workers and firefighters to toxic fumes, authorities said.

The Anchor Hocking Packaging Co. plant was evacuated when the accident occurred shortly before 3 a.m., said Fire Capt. Robert Rathi.

Thirty-four plant workers were treated at Frick Community Health Center for symptoms including headaches, burning of the throat and nose and nausea, said spokeswoman Jeanne Toohey. She said all were released except for a 58-year-old woman who was admitted for treatment of chest pains.

About 60 people, including several firefighters, were treated for similar problems at Highlands Hospital and Health Center in Connellsville, said nursing supervisor Elsie Bugosh. Most of them had been released by 8:30 a.m., she said.

A woman at the plant who identified herself only as a secretary said 500 people work there. The company would issue a statement later, she said.

The fumes were released following a chemical reaction in a 55-gallon drum containing a sealant made by a Korean company, said Richard Stephens, a senior coordinator for Chemtrec, a Washington, D.C.-based clearinghouse for information on chemical emergencies.

Stephens said he didn’t know what brand of sealant was involved. ″What we know is that Anchor Hocking prepared the material according to specifications on Saturday for use on Monday,″ he said.

The fumes cleared within four hours of the accident. There was no environmental damage outside the plant, said Betsy Mallison, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Resources.

Lids for glass food jars are made at the plant, located in Fayette County in the southwestern part of the state.

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