15 treated at hospital following Terre Haute chemical leak

A blue tarp was set out to wipe people down at the scene if needed. Photo courtesy WTHI-TV.

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — A chemical leak sent at least 15 people to a hospital for treatment before it was stopped at a plant on Terre Haute’s south side, authorities said.

Firefighters say sulfur dioxide leaked at Hydrite Chemical Co. on Saturday night and winds carried fumes to nearby Hulman-Mini Speedway, where a crowd was watching auto races.

The Tribune-Star reported 200 to 300 people were evacuated from the area and some complained of respiratory problems including difficulty breathing, nasal irritation, as well as nausea and a metallic taste in their mouths.

“It felt like your throat got real tight,” said Caitlyn Chandler, whose brother was treated for chest pain, difficulty breathing and nausea.

Police reported no ongoing evacuations Sunday.

At the scene, first responders provided oxygen to some patients.

Terre Haute Regional Hospital received 15 patients complaining of symptoms related to the leak, hospital spokeswoman Ann Marie Foote said. Twelve were treated and released, and three were admitted for additional testing and treatment, she said.

It wasn’t clear whether Union Hospital in Terre Haute treated any patients.

No other businesses or homes were evacuated, but police blocked access to the immediate area for several hours.

Joe Swan, a Terre Haute Fire Department spokesman, said the situation was under control by 10 p.m. Saturday, a little more than two hours after people first started calling 911.

“We believe Hydrite’s got everything shut down and there’s no leak at this time,” Swan said.

A telephone message seeking comment was left at the company Sunday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website says exposure to sulfur dioxide can cause “an array of adverse respiratory effects including bronchoconstriction and increased asthma symptoms.”

 

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