British Columbia

Synthetic fruit flavouring chemical sends 2 people to hospital in Prince Rupert

An improperly secured ventilation hatch is being blamed for sending two workers at Prince Rupert's container terminals to hopsital.

Workers at the Prince Rupert port have been discharged after being treated for respiratory irritation

Butyl acetate is found in fruits such as Red Delicious apples, and is used to provide artificial fruit flavouring for other foods. (MYRONE/Wikimedia Commons)

An improperly secured ventilation hatch is being blamed for sending two workers at Prince Rupert's container terminals to hospital.

According to DP World, which operates a container port in Prince Rupert, the tank contained butyl acetate, a chemical used as synthetic fruit flavouring. The incident happened around 9:45 a.m. PT on Thursday.

"Two employees working in a specific area of the container yard were assisted in getting medical treatment at the local hospital with symptoms of respiratory irritation," DP World communications manager Angela Kirkham said in a release Friday. 

"Thankfully they have been discharged within hours of their arrival. We continue to check on their well-being."

This is the second time in recent months operations have been suspended because of worker safety concerns at the port. (Prince Rupert Port Authority)

An on-site air monitoring team declared the site safe by 8 p.m. Thursday and normal operations resumed the next day.

DP World says no one outside of the container yard was affected.

This is the second time in four months DP World has suspended operations because of worker safety concerns in Prince Rupert. In September, 11 workers had to get medical treatment with symptoms of respiratory and eye irritation.

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