|11/4/2019 11:44:00 AM|
Mineral Point Cummins location back in operation after two separate incidents, investigation still continues
|Mineral Point's Cummins Emissions Solutions has returned to business as usual after two separate incidents that took place last week.|
According to information provided by Jon Mills, Cummins Director of External Communication, on Tuesday October 22 "an out of service gas line was ruptured on the exterior of the building." The Mineral Point Fire Department was called to investigate.
After a full evaluation, the Fire Department and Cummins leadership determined that the site was safe for employees to return.
The Mineral Point Fire Department had to make another call to the factory on Wednesday when several employees reported symptoms consistent with what they thought were problems with a gas leak. Iowa County Emergency Management Director Keith Hurlbert clarified that the Mineral Point Fire Department was already contacted by the Cummins factory, prior to the dispatch call about the situation and what was expected as a possible gas leak.
"Since the gas line was hit the day before, Cummins made the decision to just shut off the gas to the building so that the construction could continue without any more possibilities of that happening," Hurlbert said. "The fire department was already aware that there wasn't a gas leak at this time."
The situation took another turn Wednesday night when carbon monoxide was detected so measures were taken to ventilate the building by putting positive pressure fans in place.
Hurlbert said the thought was the carbon monoxide may have been caused by the forklift battery charging stations. All forklift battery chargers were removed and instructions were given not to charge the batteries and not to plug in any charging systems.
Six other people reported being ill Thursday morning around 3 a.m. and both Mineral Point Fire Department and Mineral Point EMS responded. This time, carbon monoxide levels were not detected, so it is unknown at this time the cause of these illnesses which continues to be investigated.
Other agencies involved with the investigation were Iowa County Hazardous Materials Response Team, Vernon County Hazardous Materials Response Team, Madison's Hazardous Materials Response team, and the 54th Civil Support Team (Wisconsin National Guard's full-time response team for emergencies).
It is yet to be confirmed, but it is believed that the hydrogen given off in the batteries made readings high enough to mimic carbon monoxide levels, which was not detected in the most recent reading. Hurlbert said that a battery manufacturer representative from Cummins was on scene on Thursday morning, along with a forklift technician.
"Cummins took the steps necessary and is doing their due diligence," Hurlbert said.
The statement released by Mills says, "Cummins takes the safety and security of our employees incredibly seriously. This was an unfortunate incident and we are grateful to the Mineral Point Fire Department for their collaboration to help address the issue and ensure the safety of our site."
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