NJ Animal Hospital Evacuated After MRI Machine Explodes; Several Workers Hurt

Several construction workers were injured when an MRI machine they were disassembling in a New Jersey animal hospital exploded Friday morning, authorities say.

None of the 60 or so animals in the Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus at the time of the explosion were hurt.

The workers were dismantling the machine to put in a new one, officials said. One of the workers was taken to the hospital in critical condition with lacerations and crushing-related injuries to his body; the two others had respiratory complaints and other, mostly minor injuries, police said.

It's not clear why the machine exploded. There was no fire after the initial explosion, but there was a small leak of helium, which is used as a cooling agent inside of the MRI machine. Hazardous materials crews responded to the scene as a precaution and assisted firefighters in stopping the leak.

Dr. Tony Palminteri, owner of the hospital, said that his workers got all of the animals out safely, but several were in critical condition because of earlier medical concerns and were going to be taken to other area animal hospitals for continued treatment as soon as possible.

The animals were taken to a store across the street, where more than two dozen animal hospital employees were working to give them shelter and treat any explosion-related or pre-existing injuries.

The part of the hospital had extensive damage but was deemed structurally safe, authorities said. It will remain closed, though, for an as yet undetermined length of time, authorities said.

In a statement posted to its Facebook page, Oradell Animal Hospital thanked its employees and partners.

"Each and every one of our employees worked together during the situation and they all get a great big thank you," the statement said "A huge thank you goes out to our partners: Bergen police and emergency units, Animal Control, HoHoKus Animal Hospital, Park Ridge Animal Hospital, Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, Ashley Pochick from Merial and Mangiamo's Pizza on Route 17. We thank every one very, very much."

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