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Novartis plant leak causes hospitalisation of six workers

17 December 2012

Swiss police said six people were taken to hospital on Tuesday following the leak of a corrosive liquid at a Novartis pharmaceutical production site in Schweizerhalle near Basel in Switzerland where the group makes the blood pressure drug Diovan. Police said a few litres of a caustic liquid chemical were spilt and 13 people who inhaled the fumes needed medical attention

After the spill was reported, the affected areas were vented and returned to normal conditions. No areas outside the plant were affected, local police said.

Staff from an external cleaning company were on site at the time of the spill. Of the 6 people who were taken to a hospital, 5 were from the cleaning company. Novartis is yet to comment publicly on the incident.

The Schweizerhalle site is infamous for a 1986 event that is regarded as among the worst environmental disasters in Europe when an agrochemical storehouse operated by Sandoz, now part of Novartis, caught fire. That led to the nearby Rhine river turning red with pollutants which caused massive loss of wildlife downstream from the fire.

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