Chem Fire at GA Chicken Plant Forces Evac

Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 12:04 PM gHale

A chemical fire forced the evacuation of dozens of homes around the Tyson Foods chicken plant in Dawson, GA, Wednesday night, officials said.

A fire broke out in a dock area of the Dawson plant, employees evacuated, and there were no injuries, said Worth Sparkman, a spokesperson for Tyson Foods.

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“We’re grateful for area fire departments and their quick response,” Sparkman said. “The incident involved the release of ammonia, which is used as a refrigerant at the plant. The leak has been isolated and we’re working to determine the root cause.

“The plant will not operate the rest of this week. We’re evaluating the damage and will determine when we might resume operations sometime next week.”

A HazMat team was requested by the Terrell County EMA Director around 9:15 p.m. due to ammonia released through Tyson Foods refrigeration lines. 

Forty homes evacuated in the area of Old Mill Road and the intersection of Highway 32, said Terrell County EMA Director Billy McClung.

First responders went door to door in outlying areas to inform residents to be on standby. McClung said the evacuations are due to ammonia leaks.

The fire was reported to be in the walls when the Albany Fire Department arrived on scene but was under control as of midnight Thursday, said Battalion Chief Keith Ambrose. When the leak was noticed, the big tank was shut down and ammonia released from the refrigeration lines. No plume clouds were reported.

Ambrose spoke with McClung who said where the winds are blowing, the ammonia would not be heading toward residential areas.

Ambrose added ammonia is a pungent smell that leaves a burning sensation in/on/around moist areas of the body (eyes, nose, lungs, crotch area and underarms). All believe that there was only a small amount of ammonia released and was contained to a small area around the plant.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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