Nestle’s Willy Wonka candy factory in Itasca was evacuated Friday, June 17, following a chemical spill that sent 11 people to the hospital.
At approximately 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, a ventilation pipe that contained a chemical solution used to keep the plant’s humidity levels balanced burst. About five gallons of a solution mainly composed of lithium chloride was spilled. Lithium chloride can cause severe health issues, such as respiratory, skin, and eye irritation.
A Nestle representative said none of the solution came into contact with the SweeTarts candy products manufactured at the facility, but approximately 50 workers were evacuated.
Though the spill was initially contained, employees started to experience exposure symptoms a few hours later. The Itasca Fire Department was called to the scene at approximately 1:25 a.m. Paramedics examined 17 workers suffering from respiratory problems. Eleven people were taken to nearby hospitals suffering from nausea and other health issues. They were treated and later released.
Employees were allowed back inside the facility around 3:30 a.m. Nestle suspended first shift operations Friday morning in light of the chemical spill. Operations continued as normal with the day’s second shift.
Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) compliance officers were at the scene of the chemical spill. The agency has opened an investigation regarding the incident; investigators intend to speak with Nestle, factory employees and other witnesses if efforts to determine the cause of the chemical spill.
The health department was also notified of the chemical spill, as it occurred in a facility that manufactures food products.
If a workplace hazard, such as a chemical spill, led to your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation. GWC Injury Lawyers will pursue your workers’ compensation claim, working to maximize compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.