'Several' hospitalized after hazmat incident at Athens plant
McMinn County Mayor John Gentry says several people were hospitalized at the Mills Products plant in Athens Wednesday morning after some kind of "exposure" event, according to our sister station WTVC in Chattanooga. Gentry would not provide a specific number. This happened Wednesday morning at Mills Products in Athens, located on Northridge Drive.
A statement from a spokesman for Mills Products says:
"This morning, as a precautionary measure, Athens Fire Department was called to Mills Products, Inc to check for a possible gas leak at the facility.
At approximately 830am two employees experienced symptoms of ongoing illnesses, and shortly thereafter numerous employees began complaining of nausea and headaches. The Athens Fire Department and Athens Utility Board has been on scene and testing the building multiple times for gas leak and carbon monoxide. No signs of a gas leak or carbon monoxide are present.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) have been reviewed for possible exposure or similarities in symptoms, with no common links identified yet.
All employees have been evacuated, accounted for, and are safe. All employees experiencing headache and nausea have been transported throughout the morning as a precautionary measure. All employees complaining of symptoms are in the care of medical facilities and are being evaluated. The symptoms are only effecting first shift team members.
Second and third shift employees have been contacted as part of Mills Products welfare checks, and no complaints have been stated by those employees.
In an unrelated event earlier this morning another employee was air-lifted due to personal medical issue and is being treated.
Emergency and utility personnel remain on scene and are continuing to test the building and will continue to monitor employees and the building."
We also saw a hazardous materials team entering the plant. Athens Police and the McMinn County Sheriff's Department are about to give more details to our crew on the scene. McMinn County radio station WJSQ/WLAR reports that it's a possible gas leak, and that employees in Plant 1 were evacuated to Plant 2. NewsChannel 9 is independently working to confirm that report.
Its website describes Mills Products as "a turnkey metal fabricator with a reputation for producing lightweight, aesthetically superior parts through hydroforming, tubular stamping and roll forming. Since 1945, major manufacturers have trusted us to make their components stronger, lighter and more economical."