Emergency responders were called to a reported hazardous materials incident tonight at Fortitech’s headquarters on Technology Drive.
Firefighters and a hazardous material crew were dispatched to the company about 8:15 p.m. after receiving a report of a argon leak, according to emergency radio transmissions. Emergency vehicles were parked in front of the building, while firefighters with breathing apparatus could be seen inside.
Emergency workers at the scene refused to comment. A dispatcher reached on the phone said she didn’t know much about the situation, but said the scene had been secured and the public had no reason to worry. Police could not be reached for immediate comment.
According to a fact sheet from the New Jersey Department of Health, argon is an inert gas prevalent in the atmosphere as a major component of air, along with oxygen and nitrogen. Common industrial uses include arc welding, electric lamps, metal refining and in ionization chambers.
Though it is considered a stable gas, it is can cause asphyxiation by replacing oxygen in the air. Symptoms can include headache, rapid breathing, dizziness, confusion, tremors, loss of coordination and judgment and lightheadedness. Higher levels can cause nausea, vomiting and unconsciousness, leading to coma or death.
Fortitech manufactures nutrient mixes and additives and is located just off of Maxon Road Extension on the city’s north side.