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Irritated skin, burning eyes, and nose, coughing, and shortness of breath...health officials talks discusses Eastern Greene HAZMAT incident

The school remained closed on Friday as investigators continued to investigate what may have happened.

Posted: Aug 23, 2019 4:37 PM
Updated: Aug 23, 2019 6:57 PM

GREENE COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Authorities were still inspecting Eastern Greene Middle and Elementary School on Friday.

That's after the school was evacuated on Thursday for a HAZMAT incident.

FULL LETTER FROM EASTERN GREENE

"Dear Parents and Community Members,

Center-Jackson Fire Territory and several other agencies, including the State Fire Marshall (SIC), responded to the Eastern Greene Middle School for possible air quality issue on Thursday, August 22nd. This incident was discovered in one room and confined to a small area. The school immediately took action to prevent spreading to other areas. A total of five people were transported to local hospitals for evaluation. The school confirmed everyone was released from the hospital. Eastern Greene Schools contacted students and parents that were in the immediate area. During the initial investigation, no noticeable items of concern were located. On site tests were performed by skilled responders and nothing was located to cause alarm. Eastern Greene Schools, Greene County Health Department, and Indiana Department of Environmental Management have requested additional tests to be performed to ensure the school is safe when students are able to return. These are precautionary measures at this time. As always, Eastern Greene Schools keep our students, staff, and community's safety as top priority."

After the evacuation, parents took to social media voicing their concerns after several students and staff were hospitalized.

LINK | HAZMAT INCIDENT REPORTED AT EASTERN GREENE MIDDLE SCHOOL, SEVERAL HOSPITALIZED FOR OBSERVATION, SCHOOL CLOSED FRIDAY

The school remained closed on Friday as investigators continued to investigate what may have happened.

Peter Powers is a Greene County Health Officer at the health department.

He told us several students and staff started having symptoms like irritated skin, burning eyes, and nose, coughing, and shortness of breath.

He told us those with symptoms were taken to the emergency room and have since been released.

Right now, he says, the incident seems to only have impacted those in the school.

LINK | FIRE DEPARTMENT: NOTHING FOUND TO 'CAUSE ALARM' AFTER HAZARDOUS INCIDENT AT AREA SCHOOL

"It was isolated to one particular area in the school...no one has reported any illness outside of the school. Neighbors, residents in the community that I'm aware of," Powers said.

He told us Fire Marshals, Indiana Department of Emergency Management and the Indiana State Department of Health have all done air quality tests, and so far, they have tested negative for any hazardous air quality issues.

News 10 learned the building will remain closed until at least Sunday when there will be more testing. 

The local fire department said it started with a possible chemical leak or spill Thursday afternoon. 

Officials told us they confined the issue to one room in the school, but they haven't said much more about what specifically happened. 

Health Departments have tested residue on the walls and floors, along with trash cans. 

Powers said they not only want to figure out what it is, but they also want to figure out how it got into the school. 

"As of currently, I'm not aware of any criminal investigation. I know they do have video cameras and they are pulling those tapes to look into some of those tapes," Powers told us. 

We will continue to follow this story and bring you more as soon as it becomes available. 

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