1997 May: 29 Legal Workers Hospitalised. Pesticide detected: Dimethoate,

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City Shops Evacuated After Chemical Spill

Sydney Morning Herald Monday May 26, 1997

By ANDREW CLENNELL

Twenty-nine workers from a city solicitor’s office and a fireman were taken to hospital yesterday afternoon after they were overcome by fumes from a pesticide spill.

Fire brigade crews were called to the Skygarden Shopping Centre in Castlereagh Street about midday after workers at Malcolm Johns and Co, on the 12th floor, complained of sore throats, nausea and breathing problems.

Five hundred people were soon evacuated from the shopping centre and the street cordoned off between King and Market streets until 4 pm.

The officers donned breathing apparatus and found two pesticide containers in a cupboard, one holding the organo-phosphate Rogor , another containing Killval .

“There was a leak in one of the containers (Rogor) ,” fire brigades hazardous material officer Mr John Tapper said last night.

“The container burst its seam for some unknown reason and its contents very slowly emptied into the cupboard in which it was stored.”

The pesticides are understood to have been exhibits for a court case.

Business at shops came to a standstill as the street was cordoned off, with David Jones shutting its Castlereagh Street doors.

The affected workers were taken to Sydney and St Vincent’s hospitals and later reported to be in a satisfactory condition. They were expected to be discharged last night.

Workers at the solicitors’ firm would be able to go to work today although WorkCover had instructed that cleaners do some extra work, Mr Tapper said.

Fire brigade spokesman Mr Ian Krimmer said carpets and furnishings were hosed down in Castlereagh Street.

“Once again the fire brigade reminds the public to think carefully about where they store dangerous substances,” he said.

PESTICIDE STOPS SHOPPERS

* Pesticide spill in 12th floor solicitors’ office

* 30 hospitalised

* 500 evacuated

* Road blocks, noon – 4pm