Chemical leak forces evacuation of Jamestown call center


JAMESTOWN, N.Y. (WIVB) – Authorities blamed a leaking HVAC unit for the fumes that sickened as many as 30 people, Thursday, at a call center located in the Jamestown Furniture Mart on West Second Street.

The trouble centered on a cooling unit for “The Connection” contact center, a call center on the fifth floor, where a company spokesperson said 190 staffers were hard at the time.

Jamestown Deputy Fire Chief Chet Harvey said coolant from the unit started to leak, “Maintenance personnel on location, were trying to service it. It began to leak, they started collecting some of the product, it leaked onto the floor.”

Harvey said fumes from the liquid coolant then became airborne and many of the workers started to complain of difficulty breathing. Other fire units were summoned, a triage center was set up, and the building was evacuated.

The coolant, identified as propylene glycol is similar to antifreeze, but is not classified as a hazardous chemical, although Harvey said it is an irritant. As many as 30 people were treated by medical staff, and14 were transported to UPMC WCA hospital nearby.

Harvey said the patients mainly suffered difficulty breathing, “the more severe people might have become nauseous and thrown up, and had a high heart rate. Generally it was just to get them the fresh air, give them some oxygen, and let them recover.”

Once first responders arrived on the scene–the fire department’s EMT’s and Chautauqua County’s Hazmat Team–the evacuation and medical treatment were carried out in textbook fashion.

WCA Hospital officials confirmed they treated 14 patients from The Connection and all 14 were treated and released.

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