ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. (AP) — An automated machine punctured a can of bear repellent at an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey on Wednesday, releasing fumes that sickened workers and sent two dozen to hospitals, officials said.

At least one of the workers was in critical condition. The injured workers were taken to five hospitals, officials said. It was not clear if any were released.

About 30 other workers were treated at the warehouse in Robbinsville, authorities said. Most people were reporting difficulty breathing or burning in their throats or eyes.

Robbinsville spokesman John Nalbone told NJ.com that an automated machine damaged a 9-ounce (255-gram) can of bear repellent containing a concentrated amount of capsaicin, an active component of chili peppers. He said the fumes were contained in one part of the building’s third floor, which was cleared for a few hours, though the warehouse as a whole was not evacuated.

Hundreds of workers are normally inside the building during work days.

Amazon confirmed that the accident dispersed strong fumes in the area of the facility. The incident is under investigation. An email asking Amazon whether any packages were affected by the fumes wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.