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Irvine : Woman Hospitalized in Toxic Chemical Incident

A woman was hospitalized and 50 workers were evacuated Thursday when two waste chemicals were accidentally combined at Parker-Hannifin Corp., resulting in the release of a toxic gas, the Orange County Fire Department said.

Diana Devine, 32, was taken to Healthcare Medical Center in Tustin with mild respiratory problems, said Patti Range, a Fire Department spokeswoman.

About 1.30 p.m. several fire and medical units, as well as a Hazardous Materials unit, were dispatched to the aerospace firm at 18321 Jamboree Blvd. It took firefighters more than two hours to contain the spill, using a chemical-absorbing agent.

The two chemicals involved in the accident, Range said, were isopropyl alcohol--which is considered flamable--and nitric acid, a corrosive.

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After a waste form of the nitric acid was stored in a plastic container, an employee accidentally put a waste form of the alcohol into the same container, Range said, causing the container to “melt down” and produce a toxic gas in the building. “It was considered a light spill,” she said.

Employees working in the building where the accident occurred walked to the facility’s cafeteria, but Parker-Hannifin workers in other buildings in the complex remained at their offices. One company official, who declined to identify herself, said the accident was “not serious at all.”

Firefighters stood by until a private firm arrived to complete the cleanup and transport the waste to a Class A dump.

Last January, after pleading no contest in county Municipal Court, Parker-Hannifin was fined $1,500 and ordered to pay an additional $1,050 to clean up lubricating oil that the company allowed to flow in Lane Flood Channel, a state waterway that feeds into the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve. The company was placed on two years’ probation for the spill, which is known to have caused the death of 50 crayfish, according to the state Department of Fish and Game.

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