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43 treated at hospital after inhaling chlorine in Morant Bay

BY KIMBERLY HIBBERT Observer staff reporter hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, September 02, 2014    

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SOME 43 people were yesterday treated at the Princess Margaret Hospital after inhaling gas from a chlorine spill on Church Street in Morant Bay, St Thomas.

Horace Glaze, deputy director of the Office of Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Management (ODPEM), said while the office had not yet been informed about the cause of the leak, the agency was able to monitor the problem to get things back in order.

"We are awaiting information from the parish council, the fire brigade and the National Water Commission (NWC) as to the cause of the chlorine spill but the agency was able to coordinate response to the incident with the help of the Ministry of Health," Glaze said.

Deputy Superintendent for the Morant Bay Fire Station Denzel Roper said on receiving reports of severe irritation from a chemical scent, his team visited the area and was able to identify that it was chlorine. Roper said further analysis of the affected area revealed that the gas was coming from an old chlorine tank on the property of the Morant Bay tax office. "When we inspected the area we realised that an old chlorine tank buried on the property of the tax office was ruptured," Roper said.

He added: "We cordoned off the area and evacuated business and schools within a 200-metre radius of the area. It caused a traffic build-up but with the help of the police we were able to quickly control that."

Roper, however, said that due to the nature of the spill contact was made with the NWC's head office to address the situation and they were able to identify the cylinder and remove it. He said normality was restored to the area by 1:00 pm.

National Water Commission spokesman Charles Buchanan made it clear that the leak had nothing to do with the organisation; however, due to its nature the office was contacted to assist with the removal of the cylinder.

"Because the NWC has a chlorine response team we were asked to assist and seek to correct the problem. Our chlorine emergency team was deployed and they succeeded in identifying the cylinder and took the necessary steps to place it in a specialised container and remove it from the area," Buchanan said.

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