Foul odour forces evacuation

Investigations are being carried out into “a possible gas leak” that led to the evacuation of the Harbour Industrial Estate Building #6 this morning, which houses a number of businesses, including the regional news agency, the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) and several data entry firms.

Scores of workers were asked to evacuate the premises, owned by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), after several of them complained of respiratory problems, reportedly triggered by a foul odour.

Scores of workers had to evacuate Building #6 today due to what was thought to be a possible gas leak.
Scores of workers had to evacuate Building #6 today due to what was thought to be a possible gas leak.

The problem appeared to have started early this morning in the section of the building that housed KM2 Solutions. It seemed to have gotten worse around 10 a.m. Employees of the CMC were reportedly not directly affected, but were also asked to leave the premises.

When a Barbados TODAY team arrived at the scene around 11:30 a.m. officials from the BIDC, the fire service department, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Petroleum Corporation (NPC), the police and the medical response team were present.

There were three ambulances on hand, and a fourth had reportedly left with about three people. A fire tender was also on standby.

One of the affected workers being assisted as she made her way to seek medical attention.
One of the affected workers being assisted as she made her way to seek medical attention.

A source from the fire service department said a call came around 10 a.m. advising that a number of persons had suddenly become ill from “a strong odour in the building”.

Officials on the scene were tightlipped about what happened or what tests were being carried out. However, some of the KM2 Solution workers told Barbados TODAY that they were asked to leave the building after a foul odor started to permeate the building, causing some to be sick.

One man, who identified himself as Mario, said they were told to evacuate the building “because of a leak”.

“I wasn’t smelling it, but I saw some people vomiting and had runny noses. Then the ambulance came and took a few people to the hospital,” he said.

One woman, who did not want to be identified, said she was told it was a possible gas leak, pointing out that about two or three people were whisked away by ambulance.

She said it was an odour that “could be continuously smelled”.

“The people told me to log off and go outside because some people were having problems breathing,” she added.

A consultant who assisted in initial testing of the facility while the scores of workers converged on the outside, told Barbados TODAY he knew nothing about any gas leak. However, the man, who did not wish to be identified, said investigations were being carried out “in case of any residue”.

“Some testing was done, and in case of any residue they are going to clean the building . . . and further testing will be done later,” he said.

“The fire department has agreed that the [staff] can go back in and get their stuff . . . but the building is closed for work for the rest of the day. The staff are allowed to go home,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the BIDC Sonja Trotman told Barbados TODAY that this was the first time in her recollection that such an incident occured in a BIDC building, pointing out that she could not confirm the cause because investigations were at a very early stage.

“We have received a report on the matter and we are doing an investigation. When the investigations are concluded, and if there is anything that is there to report, I will get back to you. But at this stage there is nothing to report because investigations are ongoing,” Trotman said.

The workers were informed around 1:05 p.m. that they could go home.

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