Dozens hospitalized following chemical spill at Alabama water utility company

The chemicals are used to treat water at Birmingham Water Works, officials said.
More than a dozen people are being treated for illness after apparently inhaling fumes from spilled chemicals at the Birmingham Water Works treatment in Vestavia Hills, Alabama on Feb. 27, 2019.
More than a dozen people are being treated for illness after apparently inhaling fumes from spilled chemicals at the Birmingham Water Works treatment in Vestavia Hills, Alabama on Feb. 27, 2019.WVTM

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By Minyvonne Burke

More than three dozen people were hospitalized Wednesday following a chemical spill at a water utility company in Alabama.

The Vestavia Fire Department said it believes chlorine escaped into the air at the Birmingham Water Works and it is working to contain it.

Between 35 and 40 people were taken to the hospital out of precaution, Battalion Chief Sebastian Carrillo with the Birmingham Fire & Rescue said during a press conference.

An additional 14 people had already been hospitalized earlier in the day, he said.

The Mountain Brook Police Department, however, said in a series of tweets that it believes two chemicals, sodium hypochlorite and ferric sulfate, spilled inside the building. The chemicals are used to treat water at the company, officials said.

Carrillo said they are trying to determine if fumes escaped the building, but are urging residents to avoid the area and seek shelter in their homes. Officials said the water supply is safe to use.

Exposure to the fumes can lead to nausea, sneezing, headache, nose irritation and a burning sensation in the throat, police said.