Howe Sound Pulp & Paper (HSPP) Mill was evacuated for about two hours on the morning of May 12.
According to a statement on social media from HSPP, the evacuation of the Port Mellon mill was a precautionary measure after a “release of condensates” related to the boiler operations.
Eight employees were taken to hospital for observation after they were exposed to the gasses, the company wrote.
BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) received several calls starting at 9:30 a.m. from the mill in the 3800 block of Port Mellon Highway, after an exposure to an unknown gas from a piece of equipment, a spokesperson told Coast Reporter.
One paramedic crew responded and transported two patients to hospital in stable condition, then received a second call at 12:21 p.m. about another patient. A paramedic crew responded, transporting two more patients. A third call was received at 2:44 p.m., and two more patients were transported to hospital, BCEHS said.
Shortly after 3 p.m. on May 12, WorkSafeBC was notified of the incident and a WorkSafeBC officer responded, a media relations person told Coast Reporter via email. The employer is required to complete an investigation within 30 days of the incident, in order to determine why the incident happened and what can be done to prevent similar situations in the future, WorkSafeBC’s rep said.
“The mill stopped the leak this morning, is putting a solution in place to avoid recurrence, and is returning to normal operations,” HSPP's statement said just before 5 p.m. on May 12.
Sunshine Coast RCMP Cst. Karen Whitby confirmed several staff members of the Howe Sound Pulp & Paper Mill have been taken to the hospital. RCMP members were called to the Port Mellon facility on Thursday.
Paper Excellence, HSPP’s parent company, declined to provide more information about the incident and response.