Local News

Forklift likely cause of illness at Bladen County blueberry plant

Posted June 1, 2010
Updated June 2, 2010

— A forklift caused a carbon monoxide leak that hospitalized at least 20 workers at a blueberry plant in Garland Tuesday evening, a plant representative said.

Workers at the the Carolina Blueberry Association complained of respiratory distress around 7 p.m., the plant's general manager Rod Bangert said.

A plant representative said that she wasn't sure of the precise number of workers who were ill, but that at least 20 were treated and released from three hospitals in Bladen, Cumberland and Sampson counties. She couldn't say how many workers were at the plant, because that varies with seasonal labor.

Hazmat crews were able to enter the plant early Wednesday and determined that a faulty forklift had been leaking carbon monoxide.

Inspectors with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were to come out Wednesday to investigate. Once they give the all clear, the plant will reopen, the representative said.

Employees were allowed back to the facility to pick up their vehicles.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • theartistformerlyknownasspeedy Jun 2, 2010

    Any forklift burning fossil fuel is going to emit CO.

    Where do you think it goes, seankelly?

  • 5-113 FA Retired Jun 2, 2010

    Options for the employer are:
    Use an electric forklift (powered industrial truck)
    Maintain adequate ventilation
    If using internal combustion engine, use on ethat runs of LPG. It has less emmissions but still exhausts CO.
    And last but not least although not recommended have the employees hold their breath when working in the building.

  • seankelly15 Jun 2, 2010

    theartistformerlyknownasspeedy - The forklift is not supposed to exhaust into the confined area - thus, no 'exhaust pipe'. I don't think that you understood how the exhaust is exited from the system.

  • materseed Jun 2, 2010

    I think the doctor bills will end up costing them more than some monitoring equipment would.

  • theartistformerlyknownasspeedy Jun 2, 2010

    "leaking" CO?

    That's called the exhaust pipe.

  • NotAgain Jun 2, 2010

    ""Why are carbon monoxide detectors not required in closed spaces where equipment that could potentially emit CO are used?""

    One argument is that devices like those are too expensive and the business will not be able to operate at a profit. Jobs will be lost. Trickle down will stop trickling.

  • IBleedRedandWhite Jun 2, 2010

    Why are carbon monoxide detectors not required in closed spaces where equipment that could potentially emit CO are used?