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Management Side
Update: Two dead in 'tragic' NSW Norske Skog paper mill leak

AUSTRALIA (From news reports) -- The death of two local men in a gas tank leak at a NSW Norske Skog paper mill has left their small community shaken, with authorities saying it will "hit home" for many people.

A third worker remains in a critical condition and a fourth is seriously ill following the leak at the Norske Skog mill at Ettamogah, north of Albury, on Thursday.

More than a dozen workers were taken to hospital while 150 people were evacuated from the site.

Four workers - three Norske Skog staff and a contractor - were on a tank checking valves about 1.30pm after an annual maintenance shutdown.

NSW Ambulance acting inspector Rodney Hannan said within 25 minutes of arriving on the scene, two men were in cardiac arrest and another was unconscious.

A 28-year-old Wodonga man died at Albury Base Hospital on Thursday after sustaining burns and inhaling gas, while a 37-year-old Lavington man died on Friday morning.

SafeWork NSW Inspector Scott Kidd said because of the closeness of the community, the incident would "hit home for a lot of the local people".

He said the three men were overcome by fumes, with initial investigations suggesting it could have been hydrogen sulfide.

"The injuries and the related fallout from what occurred yesterday are consistent with that gas, but it's yet to be established," Mr Kidd told reporters at the scene on Friday.

Mr Kidd said the gas was already on the site when the incident happened and it wasn't the result of the maintenance work being undertaken.

Hazmat crews and inspectors hope to establish the cause of the incident over the weekend but the overall investigation is set to take months, he added.

While SafeWork NSW has a "reasonable idea" of what happened, it will wait until all the facts are investigated before releasing it publicly.

Albury Mayor Kevin Mack says the paper mill has a "wonderful safety record" and the community was "hurting" after the incident.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union said there were "no words" to describe the situation, adding that every worker deserved to work and come home safely.

Norske Skog Albury mill general manager Milo Foster told local newspaper, The Border Mail, he and the staff were "devastated" by the incident.

The 12 people taken to hospital for gas inhalation were discharged on Thursday night.

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