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Derek Petersen, KSL TV

56 people treated after rail car spills sulfur dioxide in Salt Lake City

By Liesl Nielsen, KSL.com | Updated - Jun 19th, 2019 @ 2:30pm | Posted - Jun 19th, 2019 @ 9:38am


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SALT LAKE CITY — Two people were transported to a hospital, and more than 50 others were treated for symptoms after a rail car spilled at least 300 gallons of sulfur dioxide in Salt Lake City Wednesday morning, authorities report.

Fire officials responded to Thatcher Chemicals at 1905 Fortune Road around 8:40 a.m. after receiving calls from "multiple people" in the area who were complaining of an odd smell and beginning to feel "symptoms," Salt Lake City Fire Division Chief Ryan Mellor said.

Emergency responders eventually traced the smell to a rail car with a hose that had collided with another rail car, knocking the hose off and spilling 300 to 400 pounds of the chemical. Officials first believed it to be about 1,000 gallons.

A total of 56 people were treated for symptoms caused by the spill, but officials did not know their condition. Two people were transported to a hospital "due to exposure."

Fire officials have contained the spill, "so it shouldn't be getting bigger," Mellor said. Teams from Utah's Division of Water Quality tested a nearby canal for possible contamination but didn't find anything unusual.

Those living in the area of 2200 South and 1900 West who feel burning in their throat and eyes should move indoors to clean air, officials from the Department of Environmental Quality said.

The department will investigate to see what happened and ensure that no permits were violated. Thatcher Chemical was previously cited in 1992 for 13 safety violations after a 1991 chemical spill that sent hundreds to the hospital, according to The Associated Press.

Contributing: Derek Petersen, KSL TV; Carter Williams, KSL.com

Editor's note: A previous version of this story erroneously said this incident occurred on Tuesday. This article has been updated to state that the incident occurred on Wednesday.

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