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Even routine work needs a high level of vigilance because paramedics ended up called into treat nearly a dozen people for potential respiratory problems after workers discovered a possible chemical leak at the Bellingham Cold Storage facility in Bellingham, WA, fire officials said.

Paramedics and firefighters responded to the hazardous materials call at Trident Seafoods, which leases space from Bellingham Cold Storage, shortly before 11 a.m. last Friday.

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Employees at Trident Seafoods discovered too much chlorine dioxide infused into water, said Bellingham Assistant Fire Chief Rob Kintzele. The process of infusing chlorine dioxide into water is part of the routine for sanitizing surfaces at the facility, he said.

“(Trident Seafood’s) emergency procedures worked, the safety mechanisms acted as they should have, and the company had some good safety protocols in place,” Kintzele said.

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Paramedics checked 10 people for respiratory problems. Nobody ended up taken to the hospital by ambulance or had any serious health problems, Kintzele said.

Chlorine dioxide is a gas or liquid similar to chlorine and nitric acid. It can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs, and repeated exposure can cause chronic bronchitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials cleared the building of all contaminants. Trident Seafood will have crews perform an inspection and make sure everything is functional and safe before putting the machinery back in to service, Kintzele said.

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