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Chemical Accident at Technicolor Building Sickens 24

Times Staff Writer

Three employees were hospitalized and 21 others were treated for dizziness, nausea and respiratory problems after an early-morning chemical spill Thursday at the Technicolor building in Universal City, a Fire Department spokesman said.

Firefighters and company officials evacuated part of the three-story building after 20 gallons of a toxic chemical used as a cleaning solvent spilled from a 55-gallon drum in a processing lab shortly after midnight, said Dan Slusser of Universal Studios.

Two male employees were admitted to Burbank Community Hospital’s intensive care unit after the accident and another was admitted to the coronary care unit. All were listed in stable condition Thursday, and one was released Thursday night. A hospital spokesman said one other employee left the hospital against the advice of doctors.

Victims Not Identified

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Officials at Universal declined to release the names of the injured men.

Greg Acevedo of the city Fire Department said paramedics transported 21 other Universal employees to several area hospitals, where all were treated and released.

Acevedo said part of the building at 4050 Lankershim Blvd. was evacuated after a chemical called perchloroethylene leaked into the air-conditioning system. Acevedo described the chemical as a “low-level” toxic material widely used as a cleaning fluid. He said that contact with perchloroethylene vapors can cause eye irritation and respiratory problems and that contact with the liquid itself can cause burns and blisters.

Dizziness During Cleanup

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Several employees began complaining of dizziness while trying to mop up the chemical, said a spokesman for the county Fire Department, which also responded to the incident. A hazardous-materials team cleaned up the spill by 4 a.m. Thursday.

In all, Acevedo said, 35 employees were checked by paramedics who set up a command post in a parking lot near the building. Early fears that the spill involved a more dangerous chemical were unfounded, he said.

Slusser said the cleaning fluid is commonly used in film production. He said company officials had tentatively traced the accident to a faulty value.


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