New York: One killed, six overcome when gas leaks into room adjacent to hospital --apparent pump failure : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

New York: One killed, six overcome when gas leaks into room adjacent to hospital

By Associated Press, 9/20/2000 19:11

NEW YORK (AP) One person was killed and six overcome by fumes Wednesday when gas leaked into a room in a small building next to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, police said.

The man who was killed worked for GE Medical Systems, based in Waukesha, Wis. He and other GE employees were installing an MRI system for the hospital's medical school. Patients were never in danger, the hospital said in a statement.

''It's the first accident of its kind in our 15-year history in the MRI system,'' said company spokesman Charles Young.

The company has installed more than 7,500 systems worldwide, and more than 5,500 are currently operating, he added.

The victim's identity was withheld pending notification of his family. Young said the man and the other workers were based in Great Britain, and usually work out of a facility in Oxford. The group was in the city temporarily to install the MRI system the process takes about four weeks, and the group had just begun its work, Young said.

''They were pumping liquid nitrogen into the magnet to cool it to prepare it before the helium was put in,'' Young said. Helium is the coolant used in the system.

It's not certain why the pumps leaked liquid nitrogen into the room, located at 525 E. 70th St., next to the main hospital. But once the gas leaked, it removed all the oxygen in the room. The pumps were disconnected and removed from the site.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who went to the scene, said two other workers tried to revive the victim, but were overcome by the fumes and became dizzy. Those two workers and four other people including hospital workers and a firefighter were treated at the hospital and then released.

MRI scans allow doctors to look inside the body without surgery or X-rays. MRIs have coils on the machine that act as antennae to pick up the body's electromagnetic signals and illuminate them.

-- Carl Jenkins (, September 20, 2000

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