HazMat Teams On Scene at Pier 96 Recycling Facility

Categories: Breaking News
Update: "White powder" at recycling facility that sickened workers was ammonium phosphate, a fertilizer. See more after the jump.

Reports are trickling in of workers at Pier 96 -- the city's recycling sorting facility, which is operated by Recology -- being sickened by some manner of "chemical."

Televised images reveal a phalanx of ambulances at the waterside recycling plant, and radio stations report on "white powder" on the scene or some manner of "chemical release."  

Our calls to the San Francisco Fire Department have not yet been returned. San Francisco Police spokeswoman Lieutenant Lyn Tomioka told SF Weekly she had no information to disseminate at this time. More when we know more.

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Update, 7:50 a.m.: KGO radio reports some manner of explosion in the plant, releasing "white powder" and affecting 16 workers. 

Update, 8:30 a.m.: No wonder Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge hasn't returned our calls -- she's on TV right now! She tells KTVU a box containing "some sort of irritant" burst open at the recycling facility. That triggered an evacuation of the factory-sized building a shade before 6:40 a.m. 

Update, 9:05 a.m.: Fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge says earlier reports of an "explosion" were not accurate. Rather, a cardboard box containing ammonium phosphate, a fertilizer, burst open on a conveyer belt. Twenty employees complained of eye irritation, and a dozen had their eyes flushed out by emergency personnel. One worker who complained of "itchy eyes" was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

The plant is getting ready to re-open after nearly three hours of evacuation.

Recology spokesman Robert Reed said 55 employees were working within the 200,000 square foot building at the time of the incident. 

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