Chemical exposure sends four ADM workers to hospital - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Chemical exposure sends four ADM workers to hospital

by Bryan Goettel

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Seventy-five ADM workers had to be evacuated from the corn processing plant Wednesday morning after four contractors working on the roof became exposed to a hazardous material.

"There were four people transported, two of them have potentially life-threatening respiratory problems," said Cedar Rapids Fire Department spokesman Greg Buelow.

No names have been released, but ADM says the workers are all men between the ages of 25 and 35. All four men were released from the hospital by 4:30 PM. Buelow believes they were likely exposed to sulphur dioxide, or possibly hydrochloric acid.

"Sulphur dioxide, which is an irritant, once it gets into your lungs it can attach to the mucus membranes and cause respiratory problems," said Buelow. "In increased concentrations we can have severe health problems with that."

The evacuation of the refinery meant that trucks weren't able to unload corn. That created a line of almost seventy to eighty trucks just sitting and waiting.

"The security guard came out and said that some guys were passed out in the buildings here and they didn't know why," said truck driver Mike Karr.

Buelow couldn't confirm whether anyone lost consciousness. He says Haz-mat crews went through the refinery with gas monitors and declared the area safe shortly after 1:00.

"We also know that there's no danger to any surrounding businesses or people living in this area right now," said Buelow.

ADM released a statement following the incident:

"ADM is committed to the safety of all workers at our facilities. We are investigating the incident to determine the cause."

After emergency crews left the scene around 1:30 it appeared to be business as usual. The evacuated employees returned to work and the line of trucks began moving to unload corn.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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