Chemical odor forces evacuation, sends nine to hospitals

Raymond Trombley
Raymond Trombley
Papu Ceruti
Papu Ceruti
Capt. Terry Seelig
Capt. Terry Seelig

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

KAPOLEI (KHNL) - Dozens of workers were treated for nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath after a mysterious chemical smell filled their office in Kapolei Monday.

Honolulu fire crews, including the hazardous material team, rush to the Bank of Hawaii building on Kamokila Boulevard.

"Some of our employees in our call center began feeling a little nauseous," Raymond Trombley, senior vice president, said.

A chemical odor forces the evacuation of about 75 employees from the customer service call center located on the 2nd floor.

"They've run all of their tests with their sniffers and swabs and those kinds of things," Trombley said. "And we're essentially waiting."

Investigators say they can't immediately identify the source of the smell, which sends nine people to two hospitals. Sixteen others receive treatment at the scene.

"Concerned because we work in the same building," Papu Ceruti, co-worker, said. "So hoping that they're okay."

Terminix says it performed a routine pest control treatment at the site Sunday morning.

"This is our first occurrence of anything like this, and we're taking it very seriously," Josh Joyce, regional manager, said. "Obviously, our customer safety is our primary concern as well. We're doing, we're doing everything we can to cooperate."

The bank says people worked in the same office Sunday night without any problems.

"An unknown chemical is one of the most difficult things to trace," Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department, said. "By ventilating the room, we may very well not be able to identify what was there."

Employees were allowed back into the call center late Monday afternoon.

The state Department of Agriculture's Pesticides Branch is now handling the investigation.