TAR HEEL, NC (WECT) - It's business as usual at the Smithfield Packing Plant in Tar Heel after chemical reaction forced evacuations.
According to Bladen County Emergency Management Director Bradley Kinlaw, seven employees were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after a chemical reaction occurred between sodium hypochlorite and acid during a cleaning process at approximately 3:30 a.m.
Several nearby homes were evacuated as a precaution.
Emergency crews ventilated the building, and employees were allowed back into the plant at about 8:15 a.m.
"Smithfield's Tar Heel, NC. facility is now fully operational following an incident involving the mixing of cleaning chemicals early this morning," Smithfield Packing spokeswoman Kathleen Kirkham said. "The safety of our employees and of the local community is our top priority, and all seven individuals who were sent to the local hospital for observation have since been released."
More than 15 units have responded to the scene.