Two workers critical after exposure to noxious fumes at recycling plant

By Calvin Palmer

Noxious fumes released at a Massachusetts waste disposal and recycling company sent 119 people to hospital today.

Two workers at ABC Disposal Service Inc, New Bedford, were said to be in critical condition.

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

“We have no idea what the chemical is,” said New Bedford Fire Chief Paul Leger. “It is coming from inside one of the buildings at ABC disposal.”

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said release of the gas occurred in the recycling facility which crushes scrap metal.

 A 40-plus member hazmat team at the scene is trying to determine whether the process of crushing the scrap metal created the gas.

St. Luke’s Hospital, in New Bedford, said it received 66 patients, two of whom were listed as critical in the intensive care unit and two were in fair condition. Twenty-six of those patients were brought in by bus, and they were listed in good condition, the hospital said. The hospital said symptoms included nausea, respiratory distress and dizziness.

Charlton Memorial Hospital in nearby Fall River received 53 people, one of whom remained hospitalized.

At least two emergency responders were among those treated for exposure to the fumes, and several police officers also complained of symptoms, said New Bedford police Lt Jeffrey Silva.

[Based on reports by the Associated Press and The Boston Globe.]

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