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Toxic leak sends 119 to hospitals

Medical personnel tend people outside St. Luke’s Hospital who had been brought there after being exposed to unknown fumes at a trash disposal facility on Monday.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Medical personnel tend people outside St. Luke’s Hospital who had been brought there after being exposed to unknown fumes at a trash disposal facility on Monday. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – Noxious fumes at a trash disposal facility sent 119 people to hospitals Monday, including two who were listed in critical condition.

Firefighters responded to ABC Disposal Service Inc. in New Bedford just after 10 a.m. after a report that something brought to the facility was making people sick, fire Chief Paul Leger said.

As many as 10 people lost consciousness after breathing in the fumes, authorities said. The victims were decontaminated by a hazardous materials team on site before being taken to hospitals.

The patients were employees of the company and first responders, including police, firefighters and paramedics, the hospital said. Their symptoms included nausea, respiratory distress and dizziness.

The fumes were caused by trash that was brought in and was being manually sorted, said Ed Coletta, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. Authorities said the chemicals were contained at the facility.

Investigators are still trying to determine what type of chemical was leaked and its source, Leger said.


 

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