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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Waste-transfer station in Colbert reopens after pesticide leak sickens workers

May 1, 2018 Updated Tue., May 1, 2018 at 6:33 p.m.

Three workers were sent to the hospital after a spill at the North County Waste Transfer Station (Spokane County)
Three workers were sent to the hospital after a spill at the North County Waste Transfer Station (Spokane County)

Three workers sickened by a pesticide leak at a Spokane County waste facility were released from area hospitals Monday night.

An investigation determined the leak at the Colbert waste-transfer station originated from a 1-gallon canister of a pesticide used for spraying trees, which had been discarded along with other chemicals, said county spokeswoman Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter. The canister burst and released a “toxic cloud” while it was being compacted on the tipping floor of the transfer station, she said.

The leak prompted county officials to remind residents not to discard “hazardous household waste” along with other garbage. Such waste includes light bulbs, batteries, automotive products such as antifreeze and gasoline, any paints that aren’t latex or water-based, herbicides and pesticides, and thermostats and thermometers that may contain mercury.

The workers, with symptoms ranging from irritated skin to vomiting, were taken to Deaconess Hospital and Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center after the leak occurred after 1 p.m. Monday.

Wheatley-Billeter said all three were sent home by 6:30 p.m. Monday “and are doing fine.”

The workers are employees of Waste Connections, the company that operates the county-owned facility.

Haulers can schedule weekend appointments to discard harzardous chemicals and materials at the county’s transfer stations in Colbert and Spokane Valley. Instructions can be found on the county’s website or by calling (509) 477-6800.

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