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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 27, 2002

Mililani Wal-Mart reopens following tests for irritants

Advertiser Staff

The Wal-Mart store in Mililani reopened last night after fire officials determined that it was free of a still unidentified chemical irritant that sickened 30 workers on Thursday and yesterday.

The Fire Department evacuated shoppers and closed the store yesterday at 3:15 p.m. and reopened it at 7:20 p.m., said Capt. Kenison Tejada, department spokesman.

More than 40 firefighters and both hazardous materials units responded to the 12:30 p.m. emergency call yesterday at 95-550 Lanikuhana Ave., Tejada said.

The irritant appeared to be the same chemical that affected 13 workers Thursday night. Workers complained of teary eyes, mucous in nasal passages, itchy throats and skin rashes. The workers were taken to hospitals, treated and released.

Yesterday, the Fire Department tested the store for chlorine, ammonia and other irritants, but found no traces of the substances.

Hazardous materials specialists entered the store and removed household products from shelves. The products, including cleaners, were first found inside a shipping container that was the focus of the emergency Thursday night. There was no spillage of any chemicals anywhere, Tejada said.

Tejada said store officials were trying to find out what was inside the shipping container before it came to Hawai'i, and they were also trying to determine what to do with the affected products.

Tejada said the store changed air conditioning filters and activated the air conditioner to cleanse the air.