Compressor Oil Linked To Worker Illnesses

Saturday, November 24th 2007, 9:53 pm
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) - A mystery illness that sickened 11 workers last month at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant has been linked to oil in a compressor that pumped chilled air into the workers' masks. The workers wear the hooded masks as part of their safety equipment.

On October 18, 11 of 17 workers in a production building at the plant reported they were experiencing dizziness, headaches and vomiting. When they returned to work four days later, nine workers said their symptoms had returned. At least two of the workers had not returned to full-time work at the plant as of mid-November.

Plant spokesman Mark Hughes says a link had been established between the compressor oil and an odor the workers say they noticed before they became sick. Plant personnel who examined the workers' gear also reported the odor.

The 11 employees worked in a building where TNT is melted from World War II-era 750-pound bombs, so the TNT can be reused. Hughes said workers in the building now are using manual respirators.