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UK chemical facility incident hospitalizes 20 workers

March 21, 2014
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An industrial incident at a chemical facility in Runcorn, Cheshire, north-west England, resulted in about 20 people being taken to a local hospital, according to reports.

The people affected are all employees at the Keppel Seghers facility, operated by renewable energy and waste management company Viridor. All injuries they sustained were a result of coming in contact with a chemical known as calcium hydroxide, or hydrated lime.

The incident occurred at about 10:45 a.m. on March 19 at the company's energy-from-waste plant. A Warrington Hospital spokesman told reporters that the local emergency department had to be "locked down" to ensure efficient treatment of the workers. He added that there had been "an explosion of some kind" but there were no serious injuries because the chemical was released in low levels. However, several workers are suspected to have inhaled the chemical in the form of powder and will remain under medical scrutiny for longer, according to the Runcorn and Widnes World.

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Emergency response units were sent to the Keppel Seghers facility after the incident. A spokesman for the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service commented that three fire engines responded to a signal, with two of them visiting the hospital where the workers were treated, in case decontamination was necessary. Although advice was provided, no further action was deemed necessary, he said.

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