The Sitka Fire Department responded at about 8:30 PM to a call from Silver Bay Seafoods. Dave Swearingen is Sitka’s assistant fire chief.
“It was a fairly severe leak,” he said. “We don’t know how severe yet – we’re still investigating. We evacuated about 150 people, and we had about 15 patients we took to various hospitals with breathing difficulties and things like that. Nothing overly serious.”
The evacuated workers were taken to a large pullout up the highway from the Silver Bay plant. Swearingen says Silver Bay conducted a roll call to make sure that everyone was off the site.
Once the leak was contained, the fire department ventilated the buildings before allowing residents to return. The job was finished by about 11 PM.
Silver Bay Seafoods is located in Sawmill Cove Industrial Park, in the warehouse of the former Alaska Pulp Corporation mill, about seven miles from downtown Sitka. There is a light-density residential area beginning within a couple miles of the park.
Swearingen says the leak was no threat to public health.
“There’s a strong wind outbound from town, so there was never any problem with any of the housing out there, or anything like that.”
Swearingen doesn’t think any further follow up from the fire department will be required for the incident.
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