June 26, 2008

Small Spill Hospitalizes Port Bienville Worker

By J.R. Welsh, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

Jun. 26--PORT BIENVILLE -- A small chemical spill sent one employee to the hospital Wednesday with injuries believed not to be life-threatening.

The spill occurred about 10:30 a.m. at Wellman Inc.'s Pearl River Plant in the Port Bienville Industrial Park off Lower Bay Road in southwestern Hancock County. A plant official said the spill involved a small amount of PTCE, which is used to check viscosity in polyester.

Wellman is a producer of fibers, plastic packaging and engineering resins. Plant spokesman Jeff Seal said the incident occurred inside a confined plant laboratory and involved about one pint of the substance.

Although hazardous materials crews from several local fire departments responded to the scene, the spill was quickly contained to a tabletop. "Calling it a spill would be overkill," Seal said.

The lab area has a staff of two workers and a supervisor. Wellman declined to name the injured employee, but said it was the lab supervisor. "From what I gather, he got it on his hands," Seal said.

Plant employees called 911 when the incident occurred and American Medical Response took the supervisor to an area hospital. Seal said the injuries were not believed to be serious, and the spill was expected to be cleaned up by Wednesday afternoon.


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