Wrentham fire truck

WRENTHAM — Fire officials are investigating the cause of a chemical accident at the town water treatment plant on Franklin Street Tuesday morning that sent two workers to the hospital.

The workers, ages 23 and 40, were taken by medical helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital with injuries described as not life-threatening, Fire Chief Antonio Marino said in a press release.

An initial investigation indicates that the two employees were conducting routine maintenance when a pressurized hose began to leak and sprayed potassium hydroxide on them, Marino said.

The 40-year-old employee was sprayed in the face and eyes with the chemical and seriously injured. Both were wearing protective eye equipment at the time, according to the fire chief.

The chemical is used to adjust the pH level of the water, according to Michael Lavin, the public works director.

The accident, categorized as a Tier 1 hazardous material incident, occurred about 9:20 a.m. at the plant at 655 Franklin St. (Route 140).

A Tier 1 incident is one with the lowest risk to the environment and public health with containment and cleanup. The highest level is a Tier 5.

Following protocol for incidents involving chemical exposure, fire officials called the state hazardous materials response team to the scene. The state Department of Environmental Protection was also notified.

The hazmat crew assisted in cleaning up the small amount of liquid that spilled and ensured that all was safe at the scene, which was cleared at approximately 11:20 a.m., Marino said.

Lavin said normal operations at the plant resumed after the incident.

Local police and the Norfolk and Foxboro fire departments responded to the scene to assist.

David Linton may be reached at 508-236-0338.

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