UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2021, 5:20 p.m.
Hurst Fire Rescue confirms the chemical released during the incident at the recycling plant Monday was chlorine gas.
Employees at the scene tell News 3 they were cutting into an old tank they believed to be empty, when the chlorine gas started to leak.
They say of the 5 people injured and taken to hospitals, one was air-lifted to another hospital for further treatment.
The matter of this incident is being investigated by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.
UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2021, 3:01 P.M.
HURST, Ill. (WSIL) -- At least five people are in serious condition following an explosion at a recycling plant in the small community of Hurst.
Firefighters received calls of an explosion just after 9:30 a.m. Monday. Crews say five people were taken to a hospital in serious condition. Two others at the scene refused treatment.
The cause remains still under investigation.
"[Employees] were back there working on the empty tanks and one that they got ahold of exploded when they cut into it," said retiring Hurst assistant fire chief Jesse Richardson. "That's all we know at this time."
While there was no fire on seen, you could smell burning chemicals at the site according to Hurst assistant fire chief Brian Owens.
"It was clear but you can actually smell it. It was a really strong odor," Owens said.
Owens says those who were taken to the hospital told him they were experiencing symptoms such as heavy nausea, headaches, chest pain and blurred vision.
Around the corner from T&T Recycling is the home of SIU student Lauren Bartlow. The science major was preparing to for her final exam when she received a call from her mother asking if she was okay.
"She's like yeah a chlorine tank exploded at the recycling center," Bartlow recalled. "That's literally like right behind my house."
Bartlow says her mother instructed her to take precuations such as staying inside, keeping her pets indoors, locking her windows and turning off her air conditioning unit.
"I think we did that until my father-in-law, who works with the water department in Hurst... got the all clear from our fire chief to come home for lunch," Bartlow said.
Bartlow says she remained calm but still had other questions in the wake of the news her mom gave her.
"What do we need to watch out [for?]," Bartlow said." [A]t what point do we need to leave our house?"
Fire officials didn't request any evacuation proceedures. Crews blocked parts of Route 149 as first responders investigated.
HURST (WSIL) -- Multiple people were taken to a hospital after an explosion at a local recycling plant.
Authorities on scene told News 3 they received calls about a possible explosion at T&T Recycling in Hurst around 9:30 a.m. Monday.
They say workers were in the back of the building, when something exploded and released a chemical.
None of the workers were physically injured, but five were taken to hospitals in serious condition after exposure to the chemicals. Two people refused treatment on scene.
Authorities are now trying to determine what exploded and what chemical the workers were exposed to.
Stay with News 3 for updates.