Two critical after chemical leak
Fri, 02 Nov 2012 10:35p.m.
By Laura Frykberg
Two people critically injured in a chemical leak at a Whanganui factory tonight have been flown to Wellington Hospital.
A further 19 people are being treated for gas inhalation at Whanganui Hospital.
Emergency services arrived at the Tasman Tanning Factory in Whanganui around 5pm this evening where 21 people had been exposed to the highly toxic gas hydrogen sulfide.
“It's a severe irritant to your respiratory system, it can be fatal in large doses, and it's a very pungent smelling gas,” says assistant area fire commander Roger Calder.
Two of the victims - including a 50-year-old man - were found unconscious after being overcome by the fumes. About two hours ago they were flown to Wellington Hospital for further treatment and are in a critical but stable condition.
The remaining 19 were treated at Whanganui Hospital, including ambulance and fire staff, who despite protection may have been exposed when they entered the factory.
“All staff that have gone in through a decontamination process to ensure they're not carrying any residual chemical on them,” says Mr Calder.
Hydrogen sulfide is used in tanning factories, its smell is often compared to rotten eggs and shopkeeper Vivek Bangia says he could smell it from his nearby shop.
“It was like when you go to Rotorua, the sort of smell when you get there, but it was a little more stronger, it was in a more condensed form,” says Mr Bangia.
Tasman Tanning's website says it's been a family business operating since 1953.
The company has been unavailable for comment.
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