500 workers evacuated from Hunt Valley plant 22 employees taken to hospitals

November 10, 1993|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Staff Writer Staff writer Ed Brandt contributed to this article.

Twenty-two employees of the Becton Dickinson plant in Hunt Valley were taken to area hospitals yesterday after complaining of sudden eye irritation, and another 500 employees were evacuated from the two-story building.

Battalion Chief Mike Whitaker, Baltimore County Fire Department spokesman, said the Hazardous Materials unit searched the ground-floor area where the incident occurred three times but found no trace of anything that could have caused the irritation. The area is called the "clean room."

County fire equipment and 16 ambulances from Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties were at the scene.

Plant manager Don Daut said he could not confirm reports that someone had used a personal-protector such as pepper Mace in the small area.

Mr. Daut said the manufacturing process at the plant does not produce anything that could have caused the eye and throat irritation employees complained about. The plant makes cultures for medical diagnoses.

Mr. Daut said he received his first report at 12:15 p.m. Minutes later he decided to empty the building and call the HazMat units.

The 22 employees -- none of whom appeared seriously affected -- were given "detoxification" baths in a separate building before being taken to Franklin Square and Sinai hospitals, which are equipped to deal with such emergencies, Chief Whitaker said.

Also yesterday, an oil spill closed part of East Joppa Road near Perring Parkway from about 9:30 a.m. to noon.A malfunctioning valve on a Rittenhouse Fuel Co. truck created the problem, according to Mike Sullivan of the state Department of the Environment.

Mr. Sullivan said 300 to 500 gallons of oil leaked in the 1900 block of E. Joppa Road and on the Perring Plaza Shopping Center parking lot.

Emergency crews used absorbent material to clean up the spill.

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