TAR HEEL — The Smithfield Packing Plant in Tar Heel has allowed its employees to return to the facility after being evacuated because of an early morning chemical reaction.
According to Bradley Kinlaw, Bladen County Emergency Services director, the employees returned at 8:15 a.m. today
At about 3:30 a.m., a chemical reaction occurred between sodium hypochlorite and acid during a cleaning process. The chemical was contained inside the building. All employees were evacuated as well as several homes nearby for precautionary measures. Residents were allowed back in their homes at about 4:30 a.m.
Seven employees were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries.
Kinlaw said the incident appeared to be accidental.
Units responding included Tar Heel Fire Department, Tobermory Fire Department, Dublin Fire Department, Elizabethtown Fire Department, White Oak Fire Department, Bladenboro Fire Department, Tar Heel EMS, Bladenboro EMS, Bladen County EMS, Cape Fear Valley EMS, Robeson EMS, Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, state Highway Patrol, Bladen County Emergency Management, Cumberland County Emergency Management, North Carolina Emergency Management, and Fayetteville Fire Department.