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Costco refrigerant leak sickens 20 workers: New Jersey cops

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A freon refrigerant leak at a Costco in New Jersey sickened 20 employees and sent four people to hospital, police said.  The store was evacuated.

A freon refrigerant leak at a Costco in New Jersey sickened 20 employees and sent four people to hospital, police said. The store was evacuated.

PA

A refrigerant leak at Costco sickened 20 employees inside and sent four people to hospital, New Jersey police said.

Due to the danger, the wholesale store was evacuated and temporarily closed, according to the Hazlet Township Police Department.

Costco staff called 911 around 6:45 a.m. to report a Freon leak on Dec. 29, the department said in a press release. Then they tried to ventilate the store and delay its daily opening in the morning.

Hours later, another emergency call was made by a Costco staff member in which about 20 employees complained of headaches and nausea around 9:30 a.m., police said.

First responders and 15 to 20 ambulances arrived at the scene. Four people were sent to hospital and treated, according to the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office.

The Costco site reopened on December 30 for normal operation, KFOR reported.

The refrigerant is used in air conditioners and refrigerators for cooling, according to WebMD, and can cause health hazards if exposed to it.

Exposure to the chemical can cause toxicity, flammability, asphyxiation and burns similar to physical damage, the health website explains.

If the refrigerant is accidentally inhaled or ingested, emergency services should be consulted immediately.

Hazlet Township is located 40 miles south of New York City.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the Southeast and Northeast while based in New York City. She is a College of New Jersey alumnus and joined McClatchy in 2021. Previously, she wrote for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.