Five workers were seriously injured in a chlorine gas explosion at T&T Recycling in Hurst, Illinois on Monday. The incident happened in the morning as workers were cutting into a tank that they thought was empty, according to a local news report.
At about 10:15 am on December 6, Hurst Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel were dispatched to a local recycling center after receiving reports of a possible explosion and a hazardous materials situation. A local HAZMAT team was also dispatched to the scene, and personnel from nearby fire and EMS departments in Carterville, Williamson County, Marion, Herrin, Lake Egypt, West Frankfort, Benton, and Murphysboro responded as well.
When firefighters first arrived at the Hurst recycling facility, they did not see smoke or other immediate indicators of an explosion, which residents had first reported hearing at about 9:30 am. They did, however, smell a chemical in the air. That chemical was identified as chlorine gas, which had leaked from a tank at the facility. T&T Recycling employees told local news reporters that they thought the tank was empty. When they cut into it, unfortunately, it exploded.
5 T&T Recycling Workers Taken to Local Hospitals for Treatment; 1 Airlifted
A total of seven workers were injured in the T&T Recycling explosion. Two were treated at the scene and five were taken to local medical facilities in serious condition. One of the five transported to local hospitals was then airlifted to another facility for further treatment. At this time, the full extent of the workers’ injuries is uncertain, although Hurst Fire personnel confirmed that they were experiencing symptoms that included nausea, chest pains, headaches, and blurred vision.
A yellow-green color at room temperature, chlorine gas can be highly toxic and even deadly in high doses. Signs of acute chlorine gas exposure include difficulty breathing, coughing, throat irritation, skin irritation, chemical burns, nausea, vomiting, and headaches.
On its Facebook page, the City of Hurst issued a warning for residents to remain indoors and to keep all doors and windows shut while awaiting more information from emergency personnel. The warning was lifted several hours later when the Hurst Fire Chief confirmed there was no additional threat related to the chlorine gas release.
The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the chlorine gas explosion.
Our hearts go out to those affected by this incident, and we wish all the injured workers a speedy recovery. Our plant explosion attorneys will be following this story as it develops.