6 overcome by fumes at Lehigh Workers OK after trip to hospital

2/3 TC Six employees of the Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in Union Bridge were hospitalized after fumes escaped from the area of a kiln where they were working yesterday.

The employees, all men, were taken to Carroll County General Hospital for examination following the 10:26 a.m. incident.


All were released by 3 p.m., hospital officials said.

The origin of the fumes was still under investigation last night by state and federal hazardous materials crews.


Seven medic units from Carroll and Frederick counties and firefighting equipment from Union Bridge, New Windsor and Taneytown were dispatched to the cement plant when the initial call for assistance was received at the Emergency Operations Center in Westminster.

David H. Roush, the plant manager, said the facility is ending a scheduled three-week shutdown and many of the 195 employees have been performing routine maintainance at the facility before reopening next week.

He said the men who were affected yesterday were outside the building on an elevated platform about 60 feet above the ground repairing a stack on the No. 4 kiln at the plant, which is a sprawl of processing buildings at the south end of Union Bridge off Route 75.

Two men became dizzy and three others complained of tightness in their chests, Mr. Roush said.

One other worker who was in the immediate area complained of chest pains. He was one of the six taken to the hospital.

Mr. Roush identified the affected workers as Bernie Clem, Lee Dillon, Wilbur Reese, Terry Reed, Peter Neuman and James Buffington, all of Union Bridge.

Assistant Fire Chief Jim Harris of Union Bridge, who also works at Lehigh Cement, said about 40 other employees who were within 1,000 feet of the victims were examined at the scene by members of the medic units.

Medics checked the employees' blood pressure and performed an overall evaluation of those workers. None of the workers apparently suffered injuries.


All of the cement company's employees have been involved in the maintainance and repair project during the shutdown, Mr. Roush said.

Micki Smith, public relations officer for the county, said a federal hazardous materials crew from Fort Detrick, a U.S. government facility, was dispatched to the scene to determine the cause of the incident and what type of chemical caused the men's illnesses.

She said two members of the Carroll County hazardous materials team also were sent to the scene.

Mr. Roush said the investigation was focusing on a truckload of waste oil, which the company burns for fuel at the facility under a state permit.

The tank truck containing the oil was parked about 500 feet away from the platform on which the men were standing, and was about to be unloaded.

Officials from the Maryland Department of the Environment also were dispatched to the plant to investigate the incident.