Metro-East News

3 hospitalized; anti-corrosion material sickens workers at Madison County warehouse

Madison County emergency-management officials were called Thursday morning to a warehouse along Interstate 255 after workers became ill.

Pontoon Beach Assistant Police Chief Chris Modrusic said three people were taken to hospitals after complaining of sickness at the Menasha Packaging Co. building in the Gateway Commerce Center. Modrusic said five others suffered medical problems, such as sore throats, but refused medical treatment.

Modrusic said the episode started when one employee reported feeling sick, believing it was possibly due to an asthma attack. Other employees soon reported feeling ill.

The medical problems began shortly after a pallet of paper products was unloaded from a tractor-trailer.

Modrusic said investigators determined the illnesses were caused by an anti-corrosion coating on a part for a railroad car’s wheel. The part was being transported on the same truck that delivered the paper products. The part was to be delivered somewhere else, and it never left the truck while the truck was at Menasha.

“They said the odor was really strong on the trailer,” Modrusic said.

Modrusic stressed that there were no uncontained liquids or other materials that could cause additional harm.

Of the three people taken to hospitals, two were taken to Gateway Regional Medical Center in Granite City and one was taken to Anderson Hospital in Maryville.

“Nothing appears life-threatening,” Modrusic said.

At one point, about 200 workers were standing outside one of Menasha’s buildings after they apparently were evacuated.

Madison County Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Ringering said his office received a call about 10 a.m. Ringering said one of his agency’s officers went to the scene to determine if a full hazardous-materials team was needed.

Ringering said he did not immediately have additional details.

Menasha Packaging is a subsidiary of a Neenah, Wis., corporation that is more than 150 years old, according to their website. They operate at 15 sites in Illinois, including two near the intersection of Interstate 270 and Illinois 255, as part of a national network of packaging and supply chain services for major retail brands, pharmaceuticals and consumer products.