United States: At least six killed, 10 injured after chemical leak near Atlanta

CHEMICAL REACTION – Six people have died and a dozen others have been taken to hospital after a liquid nitrogen leak at a food factory in northeast Atlanta. The cause of this accident remains unknown for the time being.

The worst could not be avoided. A liquid nitrogen leak at an agri-food plant in northeast Atlanta caused the death of six people on Thursday, local police said, adding that “five of them died at the factory and another in the emergency room”. The accident happened around 10 a.m. (4 p.m. in Paris) in a factory specializing in the processing of poultry, Prime Pak Foods, located in Hall County in Georgia, a state in the southeast of the United States.

Otherwise, “eleven workers were treated for respiratory symptoms in hospital, and three of them are in critical condition”, health system spokesman Sean Couch told ABCNews, adding that “Four firefighters were also taken to hospital with respiratory problems.”

The cause of the leak for the time being unknown

For safety reasons, the students of the surrounding schools were temporarily confined to their classrooms, and part of the road that passes in front of the factory had to be closed, while initial information wrongly mentioned a chemical explosion.

“The cause of the leak remains unknown for the time being”Hall County Fire Department Chief Zach Brackett said, adding that investigations are still ongoing. Poultry factories typically use refrigeration systems that can include liquid nitrogen, and according to Nicholas Ancrum, the vice president of Food Group, who called the accident a “tragic”, “a pipe would have broken in the installation”.

“When it leaks into the air, liquid nitrogen vaporizes into an odorless gas capable of displacing oxygen. This means that leaks in confined spaces can become fatal by repelling breathable air,” the US Chemical Safety Board explained.

A total of 14 American workers died from nitrogen-related asphyxiation in twelve work-related accidents recorded between 2012 and 2020, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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