Workers OK after chemical exposure at Bellingham Cold Storage tenant

Paramedics treated nearly a dozen people for potential respiratory problems after workers discovered a possible chemical leak at the Bellingham Cold Storage facility, according to Bellingham Assistant Fire Chief Rob Kintzele.

Paramedics and firefighters responded to the hazardous materials call at Trident Seafoods, which leases space from Bellingham Cold Storage, 2825 Roeder Ave., shortly before 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 20.

Employees at Trident Seafoods discovered too much chlorine dioxide was infused into water, Kintzele said. The process of infusing chlorine dioxide into water is routinely for sanitizing surfaces at the facility, he said.

Paramedics checked roughly 10 people for respiratory problems. Nobody was taken to the hospital by ambulance or had any serious health problems, Kintzele said.

Chlorine dioxide is a gas or liquid similar to chlorine and nitric acid. It can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs, and repeated exposure can cause chronic bronchitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The building was cleared of all contaminants. Trident Seafood will have crews perform an inspection and make sure everything is functional and safe before putting the machinery back in to service, Kintzele said.

“(Trident Seafood’s) emergency procedures worked, the safety mechanisms acted as they should have, and the company had some good safety protocols in place,” Kintzele said.