BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — The Battle Creek fire department and hazmat crews responded Wednesday morning to a freon leak at the Kellogg Company's world headquarters in Battle Creek.
"Call came in around 10:40 for a freon leak," said Fire Chief Dave Schmaltz. "We responded like we normally would with an engine to check it out first. And then once we got here we up the response just 'cause what we had found."
The company says that a refrigerant leaked at headquarters and all employees were evacuated from the North Tower. Kellogg said 23 people were taken to area hospitals for evaluation as a precautionary measure.
"We set up a triage area and they checked out all the patients," said Schmaltz during a media briefing. "They transported a couple in the ambulance. Then we actually had the city bus come down to take the rest of them up to the hospital."
The city of Battle Creek said 18 employees were taken to Bronson Battle Creek and five were sent to Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall. Some of the people affected reported difficulty breathing and needed to be checked out by medical staff.
"They were transported as a precautionary measure of course to make sure that their health is okay," said Kellogg spokesperson Kris Charles. "Employee health and safety is our first priority."
The fire department said that the leak originated on the fifth floor of the north side of the building, from a pipe near the copier room. About 200 people were evacuated.
Fire fighters shut off the freon and ventilated the building. They cleared the premises at about 1:45pm. Kellogg officials are now back in control of the building.
Some employees are being relocated to the south side of the building.
The Calhoun County Public Health Department has been notified and is evaluating the building's kitchen facilities.