Chemical incident: one in hospital


Fire chiefs have confirmed a chemical incident in Queenstown this morning involved deadly chlorine gas.

One man was hospitalised as a precaution after two chemicals were inadvertently mixed together at Southern Lakes Laundries, Glenda Drive, Frankton.

The mix created the highly toxic gas.

In an update just after midday, Queenstown’s deputy chief fire officer Andrew Bary says the building has been ventilated by firefighters wearing breathing apparatus and protective equipment.

The container holding the chemicals has been “stabilised”.

Specialist chemical monitoring equipment is being flown from Dunedin.

A 300m cordon remains in place but an exit route has been established on what will become the eastern access road.

Earlier, Bary said: “We expect to be here for some time,” he says.

St John communications boss Ian Henderson told Mountain Scene one person was transported to Lakes District Hospital’s emergency department with moderate injuries.

But crews remained in Frankton as a precaution.

Early reports said two people were also treated at the scene.

Fire, police and St John responded to the incident in the industrial area at 7.35am, and remain at the scene.

Bary says a command vehicle and additional appliance from Invercargill has arrived.

Glenda Drive remains closed to traffic.

Updates on any changes to the cordon and traffic will be posted on the Queenstown’s council website.

The initial 400m-long cordon was temporarily doubled after a change in wind direction and fire crews told anyone with tingling lips or a sore throat to report to St John on scene. But it appears no one has.

People in nearby buildings were also initially advised to stay inside.