Toxic fumes sicken 13 in Europe’s new ‘Space Egg’ headquarters
Spokesman for Brussels emergency services said symptoms included ‘sore eyes and vomiting’
Thirteen people were taken ill due to noxious fumes in the kitchens of the EU’s new Europa building in Brussels, where leaders of the bloc are due to hold a summit next week, officials said.
Ambulances were on Friday seen outside the €321 million (US$380 million) headquarters of the European Council, dubbed the “Space Egg” because of its futuristic oval interior shape, and people were evacuated from the building.
A spokesman for the European Council said that 13 people were taken ill, with five of them hospitalised.
“There was a bad mix of chemical products on the kitchen level. That caused fumes,” Pierre Meys, a spokesman for Brussels emergency services, said. He said the symptoms included “sore eyes and vomiting”.
The European Council said in a statement that next week’s summit of 28 European Union leaders, during which Brexit and the future of Europe will be on the menu, would take place there as planned.
“A technical issue affecting the ventilation in the kitchens of the Europa building, producing noxious fumes in the kitchens, has led to a number of kitchen staff falling ill,” the council said in statement.
“The Belgian firefighters and medical services were brought in today to investigate the situation and evacuate kitchen staff who felt ill.”
Staff from the Europa building were evacuated to the neighbouring Justus Lipsius building “applying the principle of safety first” it added.
“This incident will not prevent next week’s meeting of the European Council from going ahead,” it said.
The ambulances were deployed as part of an “emergency medical plan” created by local authorities for any incident involving more than 10 people, Meys said.
The Europa building opened in January after a series of delays.
It was commissioned in 2004 with a projected cost of 240 million euros but ended up costing 321 million euros in what officials said was a “small overrun”.
Designed by Belgian architect Philippe Samyn, it features a curved glass lantern-shaped structure inside a giant cube made of 3,750 recycled window frames sourced from across the 28-nation bloc.