ATTLEBORO, Mass. (AP) – One person was hospitalized with chemical burns and about 29 others were taken to hospitals for evaluation Monday after a chemical mixture used to clean jewelry exploded at a business that makes gold and silver alloys.

Fire Capt. Tim Birch said a 55-year-old man from Johnston, R.I., was taken to the intensive care unit at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, suffering from burns to the upper torso, head and face area. Birch said 19 people were taken to Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, and 10 to Pawtucket Memorial of Rhode Island, as a precaution.

Birch said the leak was contained to the third floor of the building and fire crews had cleared the scene by late Monday afternoon.

Employees at Stern-Leach Co. caused the minor explosion when they tried to mix sodium cyanide and hydrogen peroxide solutions totaling about 2 gallons under a fume hood, said Ed Coletta, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Company employees routinely mix the chemicals, and there was no immediate explanation for the explosion, Coletta said.

About 200 people evacuated the building shortly after the explosion, Fire Capt. Keith Jackson said. He said 29 people were decontaminated at the scene by hazardous materials crews.

“Cleanup crews are on the scene and the company is shut down for the day,” Jackson said.

There does not appear to be a risk to the general public, Coletta said.

A security guard who answered the phone at the company said no one was immediately available for comment. Messages left seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Stern-Leach, a division of the British company Cookson Group PLC, makes precious metal alloys for use by jewelry manufacturers, silversmiths, mints and for other applications, according to its Web site.

On the Web:

Stern-Leach Co.: http://www.sternleach.com


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