Two hospitalized with respiratory issues at Iconic Marine plant

Published 7:59 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2018

WHICHARDS BEACH — A combination of heat, fumes and indoor generator use may have contributed to the hospitalization of two employees at Iconic Marine Group on Wednesday. According to Chocowinity EMS Chief Shane Grier, two individuals were transported via ambulance from the facility on Wednesday morning, both suffering respiratory issues.

With the facility located within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City of Washington, Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS responded to the scene

“Apparently, they had some generators set up for lighting and they had the doors open, but it was questionable whether or not there was enough air movement,” Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Division Chief/Fire Marshal Mark Yates said. “When I went over there, I told them that they couldn’t run the generators and asked them to cut them off and move them to the outside of the building.”

According to Iconic Chief Operating Officer Joe Curran, the company had been monitoring carbon monoxide levels throughout the plant prior to the employees falling ill.

“With Florence and all, we were obviously out of power and we wanted to put people to work so we had multiple generators running throughout the facility,” Iconic Marine Chief Operating Officer Joe Curran said. “We had been monitoring CO levels within the plant and we were well within any range of an issue.”

According to Curran, Wednesday was a voluntary work day for employees and those working could have gone home after speaking to a supervisor.

“In light of an employee not feeling good, we shut the thing down,” Curran said. Chocowinity came out and did some readings, as well as the fire marshal. They advised us to shut things down from a precautionary standpoint, so we have. Half of the plant is still up working because we have generators outside and we have some people working outside too.”

Chocowinity Fire and EMS, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS responded to the scene.

“We’ve got safety in mind and when we have issues, we take care of them,” Curran said.

According to Tideland EMC, the leading injuries reported following a hurricane are carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution as the result of improper generator operation. According to guidelines from the United States Department of Labor, generators should never be used indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spaces and basements. Open windows and doors may not prevent CO from building up when a generator is located in an enclosed space.