Irving Paper mill employee treated in hospital after butane detected

An Irving Paper employee was treated in hospital after butane gas was detected at the mill on Wednesday, the company has confirmed.

The employee went to the Saint John Regional Hospital at around 9:30 p.m., reporting “headache symptoms” following her shift, J.D. Irving Ltd. spokeswoman Mary Keith said in an emailed statement to CBC News.

“The employee underwent tests prescribed by medical professionals and was subsequently released,” said Keith, without elaborating in the late night email.

Butane is a colourless, highly flammable gas that can cause nausea, asphyxia and arrhythmia if inhaled.

“The evacuation of the mill and [air quality] testing was underway prior to the employee reporting to hospital,” said Keith.

The company is maintaining contact with the employee and co-operating fully with WorksafeNB, she added.

Irving Paper, Irving Wallboard plant and J.D. Irving Ltd. offices on Bayside Drive all remained closed Thursday night, but employees could be back to work on Friday, based on preliminary air quality tests at the mill, said Keith.

“Employees will return to these work sites when two separate tests have determined we meet the safe, regulated exposure levels,” she said.

“Employee safety is our top priority and a responsibility that we take very seriously.”

About 300 people work at the mill, located at 435 Bayside Dr.

Butane is not used there, but emergency crews continue to deal with a butane leak discovered down the street Monday at Irving Oil’s Saint John East Terminal, located at 350 Bayside Dr.
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