Toxic mix closes busi­nesses, part of route

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Diane Pineiro-Zucker dpzucker@free­manon­line.com di­aneat­free­man on Twit­ter

An overzeal­ous em­ployee hop­ing to do an ex­em­plary job clean­ing early Satur­day at Cheese Louise on state Route 28, wound up mix­ing bleach and an­other cleanser, ac­ci­dently cre­at­ing a toxic and po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive stew, ac­cord­ing to the store’s own­ers and the town’s fire chief.

The in­ci­dent sent the uniden­ti­fied em­ployee to HealthAl­liance Hos­pi­tal’s Broad­way Cam­pus in , led Kingston Fire De­part­ment Chief Dave Hoff­man to re­quest as­sis­tance from the city of Kingston haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als team and closed Route 28 west­bound for about three hours.

Ex­er­cis­ing ex­treme cau­tion, coowner Rick Re­gan said, he called 911 at about an hour af­ter learn­ing bleach and a lime scale re­mover had been mixed in a sink at the gourmet cheese shop at 940 state Route 28.

Hoff­man said the call came in at 10:49 a.m.

Be­fore call­ing for help, Re­gan — who said he has a chem­istry back­ground and rec­og­nized the po­ten­tial for dis­as­ter — “shooed every­one out of the build­ing, turned on the ex­haust and drained the sink.”

A short time later, the em­ployee be­gan feel­ing sick and was hav­ing some dif­fi­culty breath­ing, coowner Sam McDe­vitt said.

Both Re­gan and McDe­vitt praised the fire de­part­ment for tak­ing the health and safety of own­ers, em­ploy­ees and cus­tomers se­ri­ously. “There’s no such thing as an over­re­ac­tion. They’re pro­fes­sion­als and they’re there to pro­tect us,” Re­gan said.

“They were re­spect­ful, in­formed and kept us in the loop. They were won­der­ful,” McDe­vitt added.

Re­gan said Cheese Louise is not likely to re­open un­til mid­week, af­ter an in­spec­tion of the store’s sep­tic sys­tem is com­plete. He said none of the store’s mer­chan­dise was af­fected.

Hoff­man said the Ul­ster County De­part­ment of Health will also need to give the busi­ness an all-clear.

All stores in the small plaza were evac­u­ated by fire­fight­ers, but some re­opened af­ter the road was re­opened and oth­ers closed for the af­ter­noon, ac­cord­ing to Mary Anne Erick­son, owner of Bistro-to-Go at 948 Route 28, next door to Cheese Louise.

Erick­son said all of Cheese Louise’s em­ploy­ees were hosed down by a haz­mat team. “I was shocked. They were con­cerned the build­ing could ex­plode,” she said. Erick­son re­opened her busi­ness shortly af­ter Route 28 was cleared, at about 2:05 p.m.

The in­ci­dent also closed the nearby Coun­try Deli at 932 Route 28. Em­ployee Han­nan Shaukat

said his build­ing was evac­u­ated and an­other em­ployee was told to shut off the power. Shaukat said the clo­sure on what would have been a busy Satur­day was “a big loss for every­one.”

The Wine Hutch, which is di­rectly ad­ja­cent to Cheese Louise at 936 Route 28, re­mained closed Satur­day af­ter­noon, al­though hours posted on the door in­di­cated the shop should have been open for busi­ness.

JOHN BECHTOLD PHOTO

Fire­fight­ers and am­bu­lance work­ers pre­pare to place a vic­tim of Satur­day’s chem­i­cal spill at Cheese Louise! in an am­bu­lance for trans­port to HealthAl­liance Hos­pi­tal in Kingston.

DIANE PINEIRO ZUCKER — DAILY FREE­MAN

Fire of­fi­cials at the scene of a chem­i­cal spill at Cheese Louise! on Route 28 on Satur­day.

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