Willy Wonka Candy Factory Spill Sickens Employees

PHOTO: Wonka chocolate bars.PA Wire/AP Photo
Wonka chocolate bars.

The Itasca Fire Protection District responded to an early-morning call at the Willy Wonka Candy Factory in the Chicago suburb to find the building being evacuated.

Employees complained of respiratory problems after about 5 gallons of a humidity-regulating solution of lithium chloride leaked from the ventilation system, according to Deputy Chief John Radzinski.

Of the 17 people treated by EMS at the scene, 11 sought further medical help at hospitals for "non-life-threatening" illnesses, Radzinski told ABC News today.

A Nestlé spokesman said in a statement: "At this hour, I’m happy to report that all 11 of the employees have been released.”

A pipe carrying the solution burst at about 9:30 p.m., and the spill was contained, the multinational food and beverage company said.

"However, about 2.5 hours after the spill, employees complained of nausea and difficulty breathing," Nestlé said. "Following our standard employee safety procedure, we arranged for transport of 11 employees to local hospitals for evaluation."

Lithium chloride is considered a "mild" chemical, but can cause respiratory problems, according to Radzinski. After about two hours, the area of the spill was isolated and work was allowed to resume around 3:30 a.m., officials said.

Because the spill occurred in a factory that produces food products, the health department was alerted to the situation, Radzinski said.