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Injured at Work

An ill wind
Courtesy of the Oregonian, March 18, 2001

What drifted through the air ripped into their bodies, ruining their health, now workers at the Umatilla Chemical Depot want to know whether is was nerve gas and what the Army is not telling them. This incident has raised the suspicion of a cover-up.

Medical treatment delayed

Just minutes after we scrambled out of that building, while we were still throwing up on the ground, supervisors were already telling us it wasn't nerve gas, says Brian Zasso steamfitter. They made us just wait there, 2 hours without hospital treatment, just to see what would happen to us. Were they waiting for us to die?.

Raytheon spokesman Chris Early, who was there that day, says there was no need for instant ambulance calls. Workers were taken to the company's first-aid trailer at the work site and examined by very qualified EMT.s

Dave Bosley, a 38-year-old millwright, felt like he'd been slammed in the face and chest with a plank. "I will die if I don't get out," he thought. He made it, collapsing outside in the gravel, "throwing up, bawling, gasping uncontrollably," his lungs seemingly melting.

Jim Shaffer, a 55-year-old pipefitter, first sensed a metallic taste. Then something invisible hit him, dropping him to his knees in pain, coughing convulsively, "so violently I thought my rectum was going to come out my mouth."

John Tucker, a 51-year-old welding inspector, felt something hit him like a baseball bat, but he knew better. "I've worked 33 years in nuclear plants and petrochemical refineries, and I know what industrial fumes are," he says. "This was no such accident. This was nerve gas."

Much later that day 34 workers were treated at the nearby Hermiston hospital. It is doubtful that the first-aid trailer was capable of handling 34+ sick and injured workers.

Below are many useful links to assist workers

Umatilla Chemical Depot Illustration

Chemical Weapons Working Group

Oregon Citizens Argue for Incinerator Permit Revocation; Raise Questions About September 15th Worker Exposure Incident

What types of Chemicals are stored in Umatilla

Oregon documents regarding the Army permit for Chemical Agent incineration at the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot

Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program

Planned funding decrease could hurt Umatilla Depot safety

Oregon's Department of Enviromental Quality, Leaker Report, Umatilla Chemical depot

Umatilla Chemical Depot News is the Tri-City Herald newspaper's coverage of the Umatilla Chemical Depot [includes e-mail alert service]

Umatilla Depot in the news. It goes from bad to worse.

Uncertainty precedes Umatilla incinerator

Umatilla Chemical Depot emergency plan shows flaws, September 26, 1999

Residents near chemical depot given gas-leak kits

Tests eliminate nerve-gas leak as the source of depot illness, October 6, 1999

Tests point to pepper spray for incident at Umatilla depot. November 12, 1999

False alarm set off over chemical weapons depot, January 1, 2000

Umatilla chemical crew walks out, Jan 4, 2000

Emergency plans for Umatilla depot in frightening state. Aug. 1, 2000

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