Hundreds of workers have been evacuated from a Newcastle chicken factory and at least 10 people have been taken to hospital following a chlorine leak in the Baiada Poultry factory on Monday morning.
More than 20 people are being treated at the scene by paramedics with symptoms including nausea and shortness of breath, an ambulance NSW spokesperson told AAP.
She said 10 people are expected to be taken to hospitals in the area, but that number may increase.
“We have 11 ambulance vehicles on scene, so yes, it is a major incident,” ambulance spokesperson Michelle Hoctor said.
An exclusion zone is currently in place.
Grant Courtney from the Meatworkers Union said the situation at the site was hectic.
Another report by SBS stated that people are returning to the factory for the work.
Staff have now been given the signal to reenter the building, a Baiada spokesperson said.
Fire and rescue NSW duty commander Brett Drotty said the leak happened on a production line.
“The crews found that there’d been a leak of chlorine solution that they use for cleaning the equipment here and that some people had been overcome by the chlorine,” Mr. Drotty said.
“The company here isolated the leak once they realised the chlorine was leaking.
“Then we were able to put fresh water through the pipe work and clear the system out and we then went in with monitoring equipment and check for all the levels and they were found to be safe.”
Mr. Drotty said no contaminated water left the site.
“They’ve got onsite treatment tanks, so all contaminated water goes into the treatment tanks and its treated on site,” he said.
SafeWork Australia and the Environment Protection Authority are investigating, while the company is also conducting its own internal investigation, ABC reported.