Chemical spill closes facility

Saturday, August 8, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON -- A small chemical spill Friday at Airborne Express sent 28 people to the hospital and closed operations at part of the packaging and sorting facility for about three hours.

map of spill
The Airborne employees were treated at Clinton Memorial Hospital on Friday afternoon and released.

The spill occurred in a packaging and sorting area at the 2,400-acre complex in Wilmington about 45 miles northeast of Cincinnati. A package en route from Milwaukee to Freeport, Texas, began leaking about 11 a.m. Inside were two small bottles of divinylbenzene, a combustible liquid used in the production of synthetic rubber products. The substance is considered a carcinogen, Wilmington Fire Chief Phil Brewer said, and can be harmful if inhaled or ingested. The name of the company shipping the chemicals was not known Friday afternoon, Airborne Community Relations Manager Rita Carey said.

Some of the 27 workers complained of minor symptoms, including scratchy throats, mild breathing problems and irritated eyes. Another employee involved in the cleanup was taken to the hospital for a heat-related complaints, Ms. Carey said.

Airborne evacuated 300 of its 450 workers in the shipping and packaging facilities while the airline's hazardous material team cleaned up the spill, Ms. Carey said.

Airborne is the largest employer in Clinton County, with about 7,300 people on the payroll.

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