Two contract workers at BASF are reportedly OK after being taken to Hannibal Regional Hospital as a precaution following their exposed to an unknown chemical Wednesday morning.
“Everything that we’re hearing so far has been very positive,” said Mike McFarlane, plant manager at BASF, a few hours after the incident.
A Marion County ambulance was dispatched to the BASF campus near Palmyra at 10:35 a.m. following a report to Marion County 911 that two employees at the facility had been exposed to an unknown chemical. According to a preliminary report, the individuals were taken to a decontamination shower.
“Our primary priority at the time was to make sure the individuals were OK,” said McFarlane. “They were given first aid at the time, a safety shower, safety eye wash, those types of precautions that we would use had any type of chemical exposure taken place.”
According to McFarlane, protocols were followed immediately after the accident.
“The emergency response here was instantaneous,” he said. “We had trained first-aiders on site that got to these guys within minutes of it happening.”
The accident happened when workers were connecting a pipe line.
“When they broke into the line there was some material flushed out and they were exposed to it. At the time we weren’t expecting there to be something in the pipe. It may have been a clean-out material that had been there from a previous process,” said McFarlane. “From a precautionary standpoint we advised they get checked out at the hospital and we called the ambulance.”
A sample of the material found in the pipe was analyzed. McFarlane reported Wednesday afternoon that tests revealed the substance was “95 percent water with a small amount of product.” McFarlane added that the company’s response was warranted.
“The way we respond to it when we’re not 100 percent sure (the type of material) is we initially assume the worst and that’s why we treated them the way we treated them and we sent them out to the hospital. I think that all works to the best interests of the people involved,” he said.
In accordance with company policy the incident is being reviewed.
“When anything like this happens there is a very thorough incident investigation and that has started immediately to make sure this type of thing couldn’t happen again,” said McFarlane.