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Mills Products worker transported to hospital day after leak at plant

Mills Products in Athens was evacuated after the employees became ill. Emergency crews from three counties are on the scene, but have not yet determined what happened.

Emergency crews were called to the Athens-based Mills Products Thursday morning.

An employee at the facility was transported to a nearby hospital with symptoms similar to those reported Wednesday. Crews found no issue Thursday morning, despite the sickened employee.

According to WRCB, the building has been released back to Mills Products.

Seventeen workers were taken to hospitals Wednesday after exposure to an unknown substance.

This response marks the second day in a row that crews went to the facility for reports of workers that were sickened by something at the plant.

UPDATE Wednesday, Dec. 13:

Mills Products has been cleared by emergency crews Wednesday afternoon after seventeen workers at Athens-based Mills Products were transported to area hospitals after a leak made them sick Wednesday morning. Twelve of the 17 have been released, according to officials.

No new cases of sick workers have been reported, according to a news release from the company. The facility is been returned to their normal operating schedule.

The source of the leak has not yet been determined, and emergency crews are testing the facility to learn the nature of the leak and possible effects. Officials say they may have ruled out carbon monoxide. The root cause has not yet discovered.

McMinn County Mayor John Gentry described the incident as an "exposure."

Original story

17 people were taken to the hospital after becoming sick at a McMinn County business.

According to WRCB, Mills Products, Inc. in Athens was evacuated after the employees became ill. Emergency crews from three counties are on the scene, but have not yet determined what happened. Athens Police called it an "industrial incident" at first, and crews later announced they were testing for a gas leak but had been unable to find evidence yet of it happening. The fire department said it is an 'unknown problem' that caused the illnesses at the moment.

Mills Products released a statement about the situation that is currently going on at the plant:

"This morning, as a precautionary measure, Athens Fire Department was called to Mills Products, Inc to check for a possible gas leak at the facility. At approximately 8:30 am two employees experienced symptoms of ongoing illnesses, and shortly thereafter numerous employees began complaining of nausea and headaches. The Athens Fire Department and Athens Utility Board has been on scene and testing the building multiple times for gas leak and carbon monoxide. No signs of a gas leak or carbon monoxide are present. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) have been reviewed for possible exposure or similarities in symptoms, with no common links identified yet.

All employees have been evacuated, accounted for, and are safe. All employees experiencing headache and nausea have been transported throughout the morning as a precautionary measure. All employees complaining of symptoms are in the care of medical facilities and are being evaluated. The symptoms are only effecting first shift team members. Second and third shift employees have been contacted as part of Mills Products welfare checks, and no complaints have been stated by those employees.

In an un-related event earlier this morning another employee was air-lifted due to personal medical issue and is being treated.
Emergency and utility personnel remain on scene and are continuing to test the building and will continue to monitor employees and the building."

The plant, located at 2530 Northridge Drive, is a metal forming and fabrication company, according to their website.

Officials said most of those who became sick were taken to a local hospital for treatment but one was airlifted to a regional hospital