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Thursday, July 12, 2001

Portion of Brush Wellman evacuated after leak found

Staff writer

Brush Wellman officials evacuated a cast shop and an adjacent building just after 10 a.m. Wednesday when company workers found a small leak in a furnace.

Liquid metal with beryllium in it from the furnace came into contact with a water line and caused a spray, said Brush Wellman spokesman Patrick Carpenter this morning.

No one was injured, and workers were evacuated from the two areas until an

emergency response team came in to stabilize the cast shop, Carpenter said.

"Air samples taken outside of the plant showed no occurrence out of the ordinary, which would suggest ... no outside excursion," he said.

Because of the respiratory dangers in the cast shop, workers are required protection at all times and ventilation is in place to prevent exposure to the outside air, Carpenter said.

The adjacent building was cleared for work to resume Wednesday afternoon, but operations in the cast shop ceased throughout the night, Carpenter said.

He was unsure if operations would restart today.

Brush Wellman makes products with beryllium, a lightweight metal used in the defense, automotive and electronics industries.

Its dust also can cause a fatal lung disease.