Eighteen workers at Woodland Pulp Mill’s bleach plant in Baileyville, ME, ended up rushed to the hospital Thursday after suffering from exposure to chlorine oxide gas during a planned maintenance outage.
Chlorine oxide is a potent chemical used in water treatment and bleaching.
The chemical accidentally released and quickly contained, said Woodland Pulp spokesman Scott Beal.
As a result, workers went to the hospital out of an abundance of caution and kept for observation, he said.
“The report I had just a few minutes ago — the first one was released at 2:30 p.m. and 45 minutes later, I think three more were released. And everyone is stable and it appears, according to Calais Regional (Hospital), that the exposure was minimal,” he said.
The company is grateful the situation wasn’t worse, Beal said.
Of the workers, 16 were contractors and two were employees.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ended up contacted and have begun their investigation into the cause of the gas leak.
Woodland Mill produces St. Croix Hardwood, a premium Northern ECF bleached Kraft pulp manufactured using hardwood chips from Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, for the production of high-end paper grades, including coated paper grades, machine glazed, carbonless, and bond and copy paper, according to the company’s website. The company’s pulp ends up sold to paper makers worldwide.