Haz-mat scare at Apple plant a false alarm; firefighters find no chemical spill, leak


by azfamily.com

Video report by Jill Galus

Posted on February 20, 2014 at 8:41 AM

Updated Friday, Feb 21 at 2:16 PM

Map: Apple plant in Mesa
3700 S. Signal Butte Road

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MESA, Ariz. -- About two dozen people got sick, sparking a hazardous-materials scare Thursday morning at the new Apple plant under construction.

Some 200 construction workers were evacuated from the building on Signal Butte Road south of Elliot Road. Firefighters from Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler searched the entire facility but found nothing unusual, no chemical spill or leak that might have made people sick.

It started at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday when four construction workers reported feeling extremely ill.

Those four construction workers requested that they be taken to a local hospital. Another 20 people reported similar symptoms -- severe headaches and nausea. They were evaluated on the scene, but were not transported.

Emergency crews cleared the building and allowed everyone back inside.

It's still not clear what might have been making people feel sick.

"Some of people said that they had been feeling sick for awhile so we don’t know if it's related to something else from their homes, general illness or if it's related to something related to their activities in the building," Capt. Ken Hall of the Mesa Fire Department said.

The evacuated employees have since returned to work.

The 1.3 million square foot facility originally was built to manufacture solar panels, but Apple took over the vacant building from First Solar. Apple has remained quiet about it plans for the Mesa plant, saying only that work there would deal with sapphire crystal and glass technology.

The plant is expected to generate 700 jobs in the next couple of years.