Plant Down until Gas Leak Found

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 @ 03:06 PM gHale

Officials at the R.W. Garcia Corp. plant in a Lincoln County, NC, won’t reopen their facility until they can find the source of a gas leak that sickened more than a dozen employees Monday.

A number of employees at R.W. Garcia Corp. in Lincolnton began complaining of headaches and lightheadedness about 1:30 p.m. Monday, company officials and Lincoln County emergency management officials said.

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First responders reported finding elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the plant and determined natural gas was causing the problem. Once they made that determination, they quickly shut off the gas supply.

Genelle Chetcuti, a spokeswoman for R.W. Garcia, said of about 40 people working in the plant at the time, 14 required hospitalization for treatment of their symptoms.

“All had been treated and released as of Monday evening,” Chetcuti said. “Fire officials also declared the plant safe, as of Monday evening.”

She said company officials credit fast action by plant managers and rapid response from medical and fire officials for preventing the situation from worsening.

Despite the declaration from fire officials, Chetcuti said the plant has not reopened. “Production will not resume until the source of the leak is found,” she said.

R.W. Garcia is a California-based producer of organic corn-based snacks.

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