RUMFORD – A NewPage Corp. employee who was hospitalized by a chlorine gas leak on Tuesday was released from Rumford Hospital on Wednesday morning.

Mill spokesman Tony Lyons said the employee was one of three affected by a chlorine dioxide solution that was released into the air when a forklift truck hit a two-inch plastic pipe carrying the chemical around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The released employee, as well as another who was treated at the scene, and a third who declined treatment, will return to work as soon as they receive approval from the mill physician. Lyons declined to name the employees.

More than 50 people from the work site were evacuated for about an hour while the affected area was ventilated.

Lyons said one of the injured employees had been involved in a chemical leak incident last May.

During last spring’s incident, nine employees were taken to the hospital where they were evaluated, decontaminated and treated. Six were released the same day, while three were kept overnight. A number of other employees were evacuated for several hours during the cleanup. An accidental mixing of two chemicals created a chemical reaction that resulted in a puff of chlorine gas.

Lyons said whenever a similar accident occurs, an investigation takes place within 48 hours. A process is then put into place to help assure that a similar incident will not reoccur.

Part of the investigation, which usually takes a few more days, includes taking comments from those affected or evacuated, Med-Care Ambulance Service employees, Rumford Fire Department members, and the mill’s safety department.

If an employee is injured on the job, he or she is entitled to workers’ compensation. The employee will get paid, said Lyons.

After the May incident, several new emergency notification procedures were put into place or extended, such as changing numeric pagers to text pagers that can print a message, the capability to send a message to all computers in the mill, and the ability to go beyond sirens and horns by providing a voice-over on the mill’s intercom system.

He said changes were also made to the commodity area where the chemical reaction took place in May.

As far as Tuesday’s incident goes, Lyons said improvements will be made so that it won’t happen again.

“We never want to learn this way,” he said.

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