ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. (CBS) – More than 50 employees at a New Jersey Amazon Warehouse fell ill Wednesday morning. The Robbinsville Fire Department was called to the warehouse on New Canton Way in Robbinsville, just before 9 a.m.
An automated machine punctured a can of bear repellent. It spread fumes throughout the third floor of the south wing leading to an evacuation, according to officials.
“We went to the break room. We thought a line was down but they told us an hour later that a canister broke,” said David Austin an Amazon employee.
The exposure to the fumes led to employees reporting difficulty breathing and burning in their eyes and throats.
Paramedics evaluated 30 workers at the scene. Twenty four employees have been taken to the hospital. One person is in critical condition but is expected to be okay. All those affected are expected to be released from the hospital within 24 hours according to Amazon officials.
“Today at our Robbinsville fulfillment center, a damaged aerosol can dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility,” said Rachael Lighty with Amazon. “The safety of our employees is our top priority, and as such, all employees in that area have been relocated to safe place and employees experiencing symptoms are being treated onsite. As a precaution, some employees have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment. We appreciate the swift response of our local responders.”
It’s unclear what type of animal repellent caused the illness or how many cans dispersed.
Workers say in the years they’ve worked here nothing like this happened.
The West Windsor Health Department, which serves Robbinsville, will return to Amazon to reinspect the premises as a precaution.