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Bladen gas leak sends more than 50 people to the hospital


BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- A gas leak at a blueberry warehouse in Bladen County sent more than 50 people to the hospital overnight. The Bladen County Sheriff's Department got the call around 8 p.m. Chief Deputy Phillip Little says a forklift was leaking propane gas throughout the Carolina Blueberry Association packing facility. The leaky fuel tank was emitting carbon monoxide and propane throughout the building.

"The one we think is the problem, just a few seconds after it was cranked, we noticed the carbon monoxide levels went up and the explosive levels went up," Little said.

Fifty-two of the 56 employees were taken to five area hospitals complaining of respiratory problems, although there do not appear to be any life threatening issues. It took officials more than six hours to restore the air quality.

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blueberry workers sick

It is interesting that huge steps are made to insure the safety and quality of fruit, but what about that of such simple things as air quality control for the workers who handle this fruit. Food safety is paramount, but skipped is the environmental safety of the workers. The American public needs to care about someone besides themselves, care about the human beings who serve you. Emphasis should be for genuine concern about the first safety of all, safety for those who serve you. How much would it cost for a few carbon monoxide testers and to seriously look into worker safety scenarios? This could have been foreseen by looking as hard at worker's safety as we are now with food safety. There should be an evaluation process for every possibility for worker safety, as there is now for food safety. We are stressed to the max with food safety issues forgetting to address common sense things for our employee's working environments. Why does the American public give greatest concern for themselves, when we use ought to care about our neighbors, especially those who serve us. A major issue should be added with our food safety criteria and that is utmost respect for those who serve us, their safety along side of ours.

Every facility that involves workers should have to submit a worker's environmental safety scenario study. A sheet of "what ifs" to the possible accidents and environmental dangers for its workers and then a list of safe guards to be implemented to avoid these possible hazards. Changes should be done, like using rechargeable battery operated forklifts in small buildings or all buildings. Remove potential dangers completely. Worker safety should be more paramount than food safety, or at least of the same importance.

Thank you for listening.

Ever hear

of OSHA?

Ever hear of the Department of Labor?

What do you think those entities do?

A forklift malfunctioned. They shut it down and took immediate action. It was an accident; it was not done intenionally.

You must be smoking some type of happy weed if you think workplace "accidents" do not and can not take place.

Why do you think employers carry workers compensation insurance? The insurance provider sends loss prevention engineers into facilities such as this at the beginning of the policy year. They inspect the premises as well as the work process and the conditions under which employees work. If they find something wrong, they issue a report with recommended changes which the employer is required to adopt.

Frankly, what was the point of your rave?

There was no indication the workers were locked inside the building and could not get out. There was no indication the detectors were not functioning.

There was no indication the "Patron" was riding his white horse around and using a riding crop or whip to motivate workers.

What was your point other than to try to incite public opinion? Have you ever been in one of these facilities?

How much did this cost us?

I can gurantee you that the vast majority of those fifty people were illegal aliens with no way to pay for the ER. This time of year, Bladen and Sampson Counties run 20-30% illegal. Spend some time up there and you'll think you're in Juarez.

Carolina Blueberry

Carolina Blueberry could care less about the workers injured by toxic gas! The State Chairman of the Blueberry Council, Ralph Carter Jr., is part of Carolina Blueberry, as is former State Senator Henson Barnes. Any guess as to why these leaders of the blueberry industry would allow this toxic mess? Blueberries are very good and good for you, but worth peoples lives? Blueberry Festival? Sure,lets focus on a silly festival while all the area emergency rooms are filled with blueberry workers exposed to deadly gas? NOT!


Perfect name for someone acting like a child!


ouch, truth hurt? Were those 50 folks who ended up in the emergency room being childish as well? Do People's health and welfare matter or is it, Fruit before lives huh? I suppose OSHA will determine that? Maybe we should discuss how Carolina Blueberry has some farmers who spray, and some who don't. How fruit full of worms from not spraying is sent out to customers/stores? Or would that be childish as well? Enlighten us "guest"!

Probably Nothing

Workers Compensation Coverage would take care of all the employees.

General Liability Coverage would cover all of the non-employees.

So, how does this incident cost "us" anything?

But if the areas are so over-run with illegal immigrants, why don't you volunteer to lead INS agents to them?

Maybe there's some reward money out there for you, especially if employers are knowingly employing illegals.

But watch out Ratso, someone may put some tainted cheese out for you.

Hey Rat

One should know the company will have to pay or the company's insurance.