Ten people were treated at the scene of an ammonia leak in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville early this morning.
The alarm inside Exceldor, a poultry products plant, went off around 3:30 a.m. About an hour later, the Montreal fire department's hazmat team was called in to help, according to operations chief John Primiani.
Longueuil police and firefighters as well as 11 members of the Montreal hazmat team are at the scene.
About 100 people who were inside doing maintenance were forced to leave the building.
Employee Pierre Richard was one of the people who was treated. He said for a time, he couldn't breathe and had a headache but is now feeling better.
"On my way to go out, I started smelling it. The odour started smelling very, very [strongly]. People were all panicking. We were all panicking. We didn't know what was going on," he said.
Employees at the scene said the leak happened in an empty maintenance room. It was caused by a mechanical failure in a refrigeration compressor.
The intervention by emergency response teams will be over in about an hour, at which time the employees, many of whom left their keys, wallets and cellphones inside, will be able to retrieve their belongings and go home.
A spokesperson for CETAM, the local ambulance service, said no one who was affected had to be taken to hospital.
Air quality monitoring unnecessary, says gov't rep
Christian Blanchette, regional coordinator for emergency measures for Quebec's Environment Ministry, was called to the scene around 5:30 a.m.
With leaks such as this one, he said a mobile lab can be set up to monitor air quality, but that wasn't needed in this case because of the weather.
The wind pushed the ammonia toward a neighbouring field and not toward homes, so the decision was made that a mobile unit wasn't needed, he said.