A carbon dioxide leak at a Bolingbrook, IL, meat processing plant left four people injured Thursday, officials said.
Eighteen workers were inside a meat grinding room at the West Liberty Foods facility when a valve became stuck in the open position, allowing carbon dioxide to escape and end up inhaled by employees, said Dan Waters, vice president and general counsel for the Iowa-based company.
Bolingbrook firefighters and police got the call at 11:40 a.m. to investigate what an electronic bulletin indicated was a “hazardous material” situation at the plant.
Fifteen to 20 workers evacuated from the building, with four transported to an undisclosed local hospital as a precaution, Bolingbrook police Lt. Carter Larry said.
“The plant was ventilated prior to the arrival of firefighters and police, and the business is still open, (with the) leak capped,” Larry said.
Waters said carbon dioxide ends up used to cool meat while it is being processed in a grinder. The grinding room “is still closed until were determine what caused the valve failure,” he said
Carbon dioxide can cause shortness of breath and dizziness, Water said. Fresh air helps treat the issue.
“We opened the rooftop ventilation” following the leak, he said. Bolingbrook fire inspectors “checked the air quality and sampled it, (and then) gave an all-clear,” he said.
“The safety of our workers is always our first priority, (as is) the safety of the surrounding community,” Waters said. “Fortunately, nobody seems to have been hurt” during the incident, he said.