Seven workers land in hospital due to chlorine leak in Fonterra's Clandeboye milk factory

Seven workers land in hospital due to chlorine leak in Fonterra’s Clandeboye milk factoryOn Wednesday part of Fonterra's Clandeboye milk factory just north of Timaru had to be evacuated after a chlorine leak.

The Fire Service said the leak irritated the airways of workers and left seven of them in hospital.

At the time when the incident took place, thirty workers were on site. Seven workers were taken to the Timaru hospital and were treated for acid fume inhalation. They have now all been discharged.

Steve McKnight, the plant's operations manager, said that the episode happened when the chlorine was being pumped into a tank as part of the cleaning process.

"One of the bends of the pipe ... has let go. We don't understand how or why yet, but that'll form the basis of our investigation."

He also said that some workers closest to the spill had breathing difficulties and needed to be given oxygen.

The company reportedthat no milk had been contaminated due to the incident, as the factory was in "cleaning mode" and not processing product when it happened.

The Clandeboye factory one of Fonterra's biggest sites produces 381,000 metric tonnes of product per year ranging from whole milk, skim milk, protein powder, butter, cheese drysalt and mozzarella.

It employs about 825 staff on site and processes 12.4 million litres of milk a day.