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24 Amazon Warehouse Workers Sent to Hospital After Robot Punctures Can of Bear Repellent Spray

About 80 workers reported difficulty breathing.
About 80 workers reported difficulty breathing.
OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images

About 80 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville Township, New Jersey, reported difficulty breathing after a robot inadvertently punctured a 9-ounce can of bear repellent spray on Wednesday. Local hospitals are treating 24 of those workers, including one who is in critical condition. The workers are expected to be discharged within 24 hours.

The incident occurred in the morning in the south wing of the warehouse. The 1.3-million-square-foot facility was not evacuated, though the immediate area was cleared. First responders treated about 30 people at the scene.

Bear spray is a nonlethal repellant that inhibits breathing and sight by causing swelling in the membranes of the nose, eyes, and lungs. The substance contains capsaicin, a chili extract that’s also used in pepper spray. The effects typically dissipate in 45 minutes.

“Today at our Robbinsville fulfillment center, a damaged aerosol can dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility. The safety of our employees is our top priority, and as such, all employees in that area have been relocated to safe place and employees experiencing symptoms are being treated onsite,” Amazon told ABC News. “As a precaution, some employees have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment.” The company says it plans to conduct a full investigation into the incident.