News brief: Jail chemical exposure incident was ‘mild’

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 3:25 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Some of the victims complained of itchy skin and burning eyes but nobody had to be hospitalized following the cleaning chemical accident that caused a portion of the Lewis County Jail to be evacuated over the weekend.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said today an inmate working in the kitchen inadvertently mixed together a mild bleach solution and a de-limer.

The instant reaction involved an odor and concerns about fumes, Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said.

Two staff members and approximately eight inmates were removed from the kitchen area and evaluated by jail medical personnel. The sheriff’s office said it happened shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and the main jail population was unaffected.

The Chehalis Fire Department responded to ventilate the area. Personnel from the state Department of Ecology disposed of the bucket of material, Undersheriff Wes Rethwill said today.

“They said it was a mild reaction,” Rethwill said of DOE.

Rethwill called it an unfortunate situation in which the inmate was trying to do the right thing, but grabbed the wrong solution.

“We’re still trying to figure out how we can do better,” he said.

The kitchen was cleared for use by 5 p.m., according to Rethwill.

For background, read “News brief: Jail kitchen emptied out because of chemical exposure” from Saturday July 8, 2017, here

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