- Leaking tear gas canisters at Waste Management’s Sunset Environmental Transfer Station in Irvine, CA caused six employees to be hospitalized on Friday, as reported by Lake Forest Patch.
- Seven workers reported symptoms of coughing, sneezing, runny noses and watery eyes. One did not require transport to a hospital. In total, 20 employees were evacuated from the facility.
- Firefighters and a hazmat team from Orange County arrived with specialized equipment to check for hazardous chemicals and eventually cleared the facility for work to resume.
By the time hazmat technicians entered the facility, about an hour after the incident, the gas had dissipated and they couldn't locate the containers. The Orange County Health Department discovered the seven offending canisters later in the day.
A driver for Allied Waste was also hospitalized for exposure to chemical smoke after a similar incident in California last month. A customer had placed pool chemicals out for collection which started smoking after they were placed in the truck.
This is yet another example of what can happen when customers don't pay attention to disposal regulations. As reported by Patch, this particular Waste Management facility does not accept oil, batteries, paint, chemicals, medical waste or hazardous waste. Safety is already enough of a concern for workers that they shouldn't have to worry about dangerous items coming from careless customers. Therefore, a push for more education should continue to be a priority among industry leaders.