Workers feel ill after hazardous powder released

Emergency crews were called to the Clearbrook Industrial Park in Abbotsford.

Authorities were on the scene Thursday morning to look into an incident involving hazardous materials in the Clearbrook Industrial Park at South Fraser Way and Peardonville Road in Abbotsford.

Authorities were on the scene Thursday morning to look into an incident involving hazardous materials in the Clearbrook Industrial Park at South Fraser Way and Peardonville Road in Abbotsford.

Emergency crews were called to the Clearbrook Industrial Park in Abbotsford on Thursday morning to deal with reports of an incident involving hazardous materials.

Assistant Fire Chief Dave Rivett said Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service was called at about 9 a.m. after some employees at businesses in the park – located on South Fraser Way at Peardonville Road – began feeling ill after noticing a sulphur-like odour.

Rivett said a worker in a facility that recycles books and cardboard had been repackaging damaged bags of sodium sulfate – used mainly in making detergents and in the pulp-paper industry – when some of the powder was emitted in the air.

Rivett said the product is not uncommon and is generally considered non-toxic. He said the product was quickly ventilated and caused no major issues.

“We kept really good tabs on the people (who were feeling ill), and they were all fine.”

Rivett said it is not yet entirely clear why the recycling facility was handling the material, but it appears they had a contract to do this type of work as a side business, he said.

Also responding to the incident were members of Ministry of Environment Hazmat, the Conservation Officer Service, WorkSafeBC and the Abbotsford Police Department.

The Conservation Officer Service is continuing to investigate, and it is not yet known whether the facility will face any consequences.