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Ontario auto plant cleared to reopen after acid spill sent more than 20 to hospital last week


October 3, 2022
By The Canadian Press

Hazmat Acid air quality ontario Vapour

A St. Catharines, Ont., auto plant says it has been cleared to reopen after an acid spill sent up to two dozen of its employees to a Niagara Region hospital on Sept. 27.

Approximately five litres of hydrochloric acid spilled at the THK Rhythm Automotive plant after contractors performing maintenance on a paint line system accidentally bumped a valve, creating a vapour cloud.

The plant’s human resources manager Alison Griffin says external remediation teams were brought in to contain and remove remaining fluids and perform air sampling to ensure the plant was clear for employees to return.

She says all required investigations, both internally and by the Ministry of Labour, have been completed, with no additional orders issued by the ministry.

First responders have said three people were directly exposed to the hazardous material through inhalation and skin contact, and at least 20 other employees were exposed solely through skin contact with the vapour.

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The three employees who were directly exposed were taken to hospital in stable condition by ambulance, while others were taken there as a precaution via a city bus arranged by fire services.

The Niagara Health hospital network said Tuesday night that all those who went to hospital in connection with the acid leak were assessed and discharged the same day.

The Ministry of Labour says two of its inspectors attended the scene after it was notified of the spill and its investigation is ongoing.

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