July 11, 2019 / 9:33 PM / 4 days ago

NZ defense force use controlled explosion to defuse hazardous chemical at biotech site

(Reuters) - New Zealand’s defense force conducted a controlled explosion at a South Dunedin site owned by biotechnology company Blis Technologies Ltd on Friday after being called to deal with a hazardous chemical incident, said authorities.

The site has now reopened and police cordons removed, Blis and Fire and Emergency New Zealand said in separate statements.

“The chemical was disposed of safely via a controlled detonation at the site by the New Zealand Defence Force around 9.45am (2045 GMT) this morning,” Fire and Emergency New Zealand said in a statement.

Police had earlier cordoned off several streets in the area to dispose of the container where some “hydrazine monohydrate had crystalised”.

Hydrazine is used in making pharmaceuticals among other things and exposure to it can cause irritation and seizures in humans. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as a probable human carcinogen.

Blis said staff noticed the deterioration of a container holding a substance used in basic research during a chemical stock review.

Shares of Blis fell as much as 5.4% to NZ$0.035. The company added that it will review the incident.

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Michael Perry

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