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Several People Fall Ill From Inadvertent Sulfur Release

Published By: Brandon News & Tribune

RIVERVIEW - Hillsborough County Fire Rescue responded to the area of Williams Park in Riverview after several residents complained tonight of an odor that made them ill.

A worker from the nearby Mosaic phosphate company accidently opened a valve shortly after 6:30 p.m. and released a small amount of sulfur, fire rescue spokesman Ray Yeakley said.

The phosphate plant's safety sensors detected the minor leak and shut down the system, but not before the stench drifted toward Williams Park on the Alafia River, west of U.S. 41 and south of Sam Warren Road, Yeakley said.

Company officials are investigating reports of the leak, a Mosaic spokesman said. Engineers said there was no release of sulfur from the company's plant near the Alafia River, according to spokesman David L. Townsend.

Mosaic has automated systems at its Riverview plant that would trigger an immediate shutdown whenever irregular gas levels are detected and before a leak could even occur, Townsend said in an e-mail to the Tampa Tribune.

The worker who first detected the leak told the first fire rescue crews at the scene that he worked for Mosaic, Yeakley said.

The sulfur has since dissipated, Yeakley said. Emergency responders and a hazardous materials team were called to Williams Park, where three people were exposed. They were checked by paramedics and did not want to be taken to the hospital, Yeakley said.

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