'Chemical contamination incident' reported at Waterbury Hospital - WFSB 3 Connecticut

'Chemical contamination incident' reported at Waterbury Hospital

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"Chemical contamination incident" reported at the Waterbury Hospital on Friday morning. (WFSB) "Chemical contamination incident" reported at the Waterbury Hospital on Friday morning. (WFSB)

There was a "chemical contamination incident" at the Waterbury Hospital on Friday morning, according to state authorities. 

The incident started when the Waterbury Fire Department and EMS workers were called to American Electroplating at 1358 Thomaston Ave. around 9:30 a.m. They were called for "a report of person in distress with a health issue," according to Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman. 

DEEP said before the person was rushed Waterbury Hospital, the individual went into cardiac arrest. Upon arrival, hospital staff found in the person's pocket a plastic bag with the words "sodium cyanide written on it." Authorities also observed visible powder on the person's clothing, DEEP said . 

Semiramis Maldonado of Waterbury said she witnessed a hectic scene inside of the ER.

"I just noticed there were a bunch of people, seemed like hazmat.I know my sister says 1/2 of the hospital was closed off and it had been like that since 10 this morning," said Maldonado.

Firefighters were able to "isolate" the heating, ventilation and air conditioning and "shut down" the emergency room. Authorities have also "isolated the ambulance and the engine and their crews."

"There was concern about exposure to other patients, staff and personnel and the area was immediately isolated," said Ken LeClerc of DEEP.

Officials believe no one was seriously harmed by the incident.

"There have been no signs of symptoms or exposure to anybody. We're doing this out of an abundance of caution," said LeClerc.

Although the man was not fatally injured, sodium cyanide can be extremely dangerous.

 "Sodium cyanide is a salt, product, used a lot in the elector plating industry and ingested, it could be rapidly fatal. The circumstances surrounding this are under investigation with the Waterbury Police as to how this person was exposed to the product," said LeClerc.

According to DEEP, Waterbury Hospital has hired an "environmental contractor for decontamination" of the emergency room. DEEP and firefighters were working on a plan for the engine and ambulance. 

Waterbury Hospital officials said their department is fully operating again.

Ambulances were diverted from Waterbury Hospital. Authorities said all patients are safe at Waterbury Hospital and new patients are allowed to enter the building for treatment. 

Stay with Eyewitness News on air and online for updates to this story. 

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