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Cascade Systems employees treated after batteries overheat

Seventeen sent to area hospitals Monday morning


by: COURTESY PHOTO - Overheated lead acid batteries were removed from Cascade Systems Technology in Hillsboro Monday morning after workers complained of nausea and difficulty breathing. Seventeen employees were transported to area hospitals for evaluation after the incident.Eighteen workers at Cascade Systems Technologies in Hillsboro were treated for minor injuries Monday, July 21 after breathing fumes from overheated lead-acid batteries.

Hillsboro firefighters arrived at the scene shortly before 8 a.m., and found approximately 50 to 60 people evacuated from the building located at 23176 N.W. Bennett St.

Seven people were complaining of eye and nose irritations, breathing difficulties and nausea, fire officials said. The Hillsboro Fire incident commander requested a medical task force to bring additional crews, along with three Metro West ambulances. Firefighters set up a triage area and determined that none of the employees were suffering serious symptoms. All who were exposed were advised to be evaluated by physicians.

The 17 people who complained of symptoms were loaded into three ambulances and transported to local hospitals: five to Tuality Community Hospital, five to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center and seven to Kaiser Westside Medical Center.

One employee who left prior to the firefighters’ arrival had driven to a private physician’s office. Company managers told Hillsboro Fire investigators that several lead-acid batteries had been placed on a timed charger over the weekend. The charger apparently failed to shut off in time, and two of the batteries overheated. After that they began producing acid fumes.

The batteries were removed from the building. Firefighters checked the building for residual fumes and determined it was clear before allowing the employees to reenter. There was no threat to any surrounding businesses, officials said.

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