- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2006

An industrial light bulb snapped and released harmful chemicals yesterday inside an underground construction site near the FBI building, injuring 12 workers, including one whose eyes were nearly swollen shut.

“He’s in pretty bad shape, but treatable,” said Alan Etter, spokesman for D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services. “It’s a very painful injury but not life-threatening.”

The worker and his 11 co-workers, who suffered less serious injuries, were treated at George Washington University Medical Center.

The accident occurred at about 9 a.m. in a subterranean parking garage at Ninth and E streets Northwest.

Officials say the area was lighted by special, double-layered bulbs and that the outer layer of one cracked, emitting a vapor and a bright flash.

“It was like an arc welder’s torch,” Mr. Etter said.

The worker who suffered the eye injuries, who may have been looking at the bulb, went to the street level to get help. A few minutes later, the other men exited, complaining of breathing troubles, burning eyes and irritated skin.

Work continued aboveground on the building while a hazardous- materials team entered the garage to examine the damage and look for other potential dangers.

Investigators found another bulb apparently burned out and a slight odor of fumes. However, the air quality inside had returned to normal before noon and the workers were allowed to return. Officials are trying to determine what caused the accident.

Mr. Etter said the bulbs are like streetlights, which are extraordinarily bright to flood a large, dark area.

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