Emergency services were called to the Norske Skog site in Ettamogah, near Albury, about 3pm on Thursday. A 28-year-old man died on Thursday, and another worker aged 36 died on Thursday night. A 22-year-old man remains in a critical condition in hospital. About 150 employees were evacuated, with 15 taken to Albury Hospital.
On Friday morning, 14 had been released and one remained in hospital in a stable condition. Fire crews remained at the scene late Thursday, while WorkSafe has also launched an investigation.
Norske Skog Albury mill general manager Milo Foster told The Border Mail that staff were devastated by the death. “It’s tragic and our condolences go to all the family and the friends of the gentleman,” Mr Foster said on Thursday. Three Norske Skog staff and a contractor had been on a tank about 10 to 15 metres above ground checking valves between 1pm and 1.30pm.
“They were apparently all overcome, to varying degrees, by a gas, we think it’s hydrogen sulphide,” Mr Foster said. “One of the employees issued a ‘man down’ alarm and people came to help get them out.”
Mr Foster said the factory had been preparing to restart production after a three-day annual shutdown for maintenance.
Mr Foster said it was believed the gas may have been hydrogen sulphide. “It forms when things have been sitting for awhile, from the pulp used to make the paper,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Albury Wodonga Health said 12 workers were expected to be released from hospital on Thursday night.