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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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One Pacific Steel worker has died after chlorine gas accident in Spokane

UPDATED: Sun., Aug. 16, 2015

One of the workers hospitalized after an accidental release of chlorine gas at a Spokane steel recycling plant has died. Mike Tracy, a spokesman for Pacific Steel & Recycling, said the man died Saturday night. His name won’t be released until all family members have been notified, Tracy said Sunday. The other workers who were hospitalized in critical condition after the accident Wednesday have all been released from the hospital, Tracy said. The gas came from a 1-ton cylinder that Pacific workers were crushing for scrap metal. A cloud of yellow gas was released, sickening workers at Pacific Steel & Recycling and prompting evacuations near the plant at 1114 N. Ralph St. Pacific Steel CEO Jeff Millhollin said in a statement Sunday night, “Words cannot express the sorrow I feel for the loss of one of our own. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and I ask that everyone in the community and the Pacific family send their prayers to those that grieve for their loved one.” Late last week company officials said it was still unclear where the canister containing the chlorine came from. Tracy said Sunday that the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries is leading the investigation into the accident. “They took over (the investigation) on Thursday or Friday; they asked us for documents and we’ve cooperated fully,” he said. Chlorine is a common industrial chemical, but it’s also so poisonous that it’s been used as a chemical weapon in wars. Millhollin said Wednesday that the chlorine accident was the first in his 27 years with Pacific Steel & Recycling. Pacific Steel rarely handles chlorine canisters, and those are usually completely empty when they arrive, he said at the time. The employee-owned company is based in Great Falls, Montana, and has 46 branch offices.
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