Eight Workers Hospitalized in Wis. Chemical Spill

FORT ATKINSON, Wis. --

Eight people were taken to a hospital after a chemical spill inside a plant on the south side of Fort Atkinson on Tuesday morning.

Capt. Mark Schoenleber of the Fort Atkinson Fire Department said the call came in just after 5 a.m. on Tuesday.

Schoenleber said a valve broke on a 330-gallon container of a chemical containing phosphoric acid inside a Spacesaver plant on Janesville Avenue in Fort Atkinson. That caused the chemical to spill out onto the plant floor.

The plant was evacuated and firefighters called into the Jefferson County hazmat team to clean up the spill. They shut off the valve and power to the building.

"The actual chemical that was spilled had a less than 10 percent acid in it and was not very dangerous to the health of people, but initially we didn't know that," said Capt. Tom Gerondale, of the Fort Atkinson Fire Department.

Schoenleber said eight workers were taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure due to exposure to the acid. All were treated for minor skin irritations and have since been released, WISC-TV reported.

A Spacesaver spokesman said the spill was contained to one part of the building.

"On one of our paint lines, we had a chemical spill. A valve released and about 300 gallons of a chemical that's used as a cleaning agent to prepare steel for painting spilled on our floors," said spokesman Mike Ghislain.

Officials said that they expected to reopen the plant for the second shift at 2 p.m.

Gerondale said that Spacesaver will be responsible for cleaning up and making sure all of the chemical is properly disposed of.

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