Two workers fatally overcome by gas at the Norske Skog paper mill north of Albury

Two dead, one fighting for life after toxic gas leak at NSW mill TweetFacebook Tragedy at Norske SkogA worker died after being overcome with gas at the Norske Skog plant at Ettamogah. Pictures: JAMES WILTSHIRETwo men have died and another worker is fighting for life after inhaling a mystery toxic gas at a paper mill in southern NSW.

Emergency services were called to the Norkse Skog site at Ettamogah, north of Albury, around 3pm on Thursday.

A28-year-old man passed away soon after arriving at the hospital on Thursday afternoon, and a 36-year-old man died in hospital on Thursday night.

A third man, aged 22, remains in hospital in a critical condition.

Fourteen of 15 other employees from the mill who were hospitalised had been released by Friday morning.

The men who died were two of three who were taken to Albury hospital in a critical state after being leftunconscious while working atop an indoor water tank on Thursday.

On Thursday afternoon, Norske Skog Albury mill general manager Milo Foster, along with his staff,was devastated by the death.

“It’s tragic and our condolences go to all the family and the friends of the gentleman,” Mr Foster said.

Four workers, three Norske Skog staff and a contractor, were on the tank checking valves when trouble hit 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.”

They were 10-15 metres above the ground, inthe paper machine building.

Ladders and ropes were used to bring the three unconscious men down from the tank.

They were taken by ambulance to hospital, with an Albury Wodonga Health spokeswoman saying one died shortly after arriving.

TRAGEDY: A worker died after being overcome with gas at the Norske Skog plant at Ettamogah. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

A further 12 were treated for minor effects and discharged.

Mr Foster said the factory had been preparing to restart production after a three-day annual shutdown for maintenance.

Mr Foster said hydrogen sulphide was suspected to be the gas, based on previous experience of what occurred during down periods.

“It forms when things have been sitting for awhile, from the pulp used to make the paper,” he said.

Hydrogen sulphide is also knownas rotten egg gas due to its odour.

Firefighters ordered the mill to be evacuatedafter they were called to Thursday’s incident.

About 200 staff and contractors were on-site at the time.

SafeWork NSW staff descended and they will undertake an investigation, with police also at the scene.

Mr Foster said it was unclear when production, which had been due to restart on Thursdaynight after the shutdown, would resume.

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