Gases that drifted in disposal cause four to be hospitalized

Jessup prison was dumping crowd-control chemicals

May 31, 2002|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Four people were hospitalized yesterday morning when crowd-control gases drifted from a disposal site at the Maryland House of Correction to a business area in Jessup, fire and correction officials said.

A stretch of Dorsey Run Road between Route 175 and Patuxent Range Road was closed for several hours while about a dozen people were evaluated for symptoms such as watery eyes and nose and throat irritation, a Howard County fire department spokesman said.

Earlier yesterday morning, correction employees had dumped about 2 liters of expired CS and CN gases, which are similar to pepper spray and tear gas, in a field near the prison - a routine procedure that follows disposal guidelines, said Capt. Priscilla Doggett, spokeswoman for the Division of Correction.

Morning fog and wind likely carried vapors over the county line between Howard and Anne Arundel, said Capt. Gary Jones, spokesman for Howard County Fire and Rescue Services.

About 50 people were evacuated from five businesses on Dorsey Run while fire officials searched for the irritant's origin, Jones said. They discovered no vapor cloud or smoke at the scene, he said.

Fire officials arrived about 8:40 a.m. but did not discover the source of the irritant until about noon, he said.

Hazardous materials teams from Anne Arundel County and Fort Meade assisted Howard County, Jones said, bringing the number of firefighters who responded to about 65.

Two firefighters were among eight people treated at the scene, Jones said. Four people were taken to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore for observation, Jones said. None appeared to be seriously injured.

In the future, correction officials will notify authorities in Howard and Anne Arundel counties before disposing of the gas, Doggett said.

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