Seafood Plant Ammonia Leak Forces Evac

Friday, September 2, 2016 @ 05:09 PM gHale

High Liner Foods’ seafood processing facility in Portsmouth, New Hampshire ended up evacuated Monday after an ammonia leak.

An employee working at the plant’s batter-cooling machine discovered the leak at 9:40 p.m. and alerted authorities, then helped the 80 other workers at the facility evacuate while first responders located the source of the leak.

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Wearing full protective gear and breathing apparatus, the first responders were able to stop the leak caused by a small hole in an industrial refrigerant line that supplies ammonia to the batter-chilling machine.

Two employees ended up treated at the scene for “minor irritation” caused by exposure to the leak. The building then ended up ventilated and refrigeration experts examined and repaired the line, with the hazard declared under control by 11:30 p.m.

Anhydrous ammonia can be toxic and flammable.

In March, an employee died from ammonia inhalation at Stavis Seafoods’ cold storage warehouse in Boston.

An ammonia leak also caused the evacuation of Pier Fish in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 2015 and was responsible for the deaths of six workers at a seafood processing plant in Malaysia in 2009.

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