UPDATE: Workers hospitalized after chemical release at Hopewell plant

Posted at 11:53 AM, Apr 26, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-26 18:18:39-04

HOPEWELL, Va. (WTVR) - More than 30 workers were evacuated from a Hopewell plant following the release of ammonia, according to CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil.

An investigation by firefighters and Linde personnel, who own the dry ice plant, found what went wrong as the workers readied to work on a pipe at the plant.

“The pipe had been cut off, so evidently there was a pocket or a area of gas that was still trapped inside the line," said Hopewell Battalion Chief Donnie Hunter.  "They had done their safety procedures and purged the lines, but evidently some of it did not come out and when they removed this valve, it came out and they... inhaled it.”

The workers were decontaminated and taken to John Randolph Medical Center for treatment. Sources told Covil one of the workers was later transferred to VCU Medical Center.

Hopewell fire investigators said the largest concentration of ammonia was found inside the building. However, minimal traces were also found outside.

Workers were allowed to go back inside the dry ice plant Shortly after noon and the road was reopened to traffic.

Additionally, children at nearby schools were kept inside as a precaution.