The investigation into a fatal liquid nitrogen leak has begun at a poultry plant in Gainesville, Ga. The leak, which occurred on January 28 at the Foundation Foods Group facility, killed six employees and sent 11 more to the hospital. At least three of the employees are in critical condition, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
A liquid nitrogen line burst around 10:30am. Five employees died at the scene, and another worker died at an emergency room. In addition to the employees, several firefighters were injured after breathing in the fumes.
Employee Jameel Fareed told WSB-TV that he was working in the area where the line broke. ““First we just thought there was something wrong with the freezer, then they started saying get out,” Fareed said. “I just saw the fog and when I couldn’t see down the steps, I turned around. But I didn’t feel anything.”
“Those lost today include maintenance, supervisory and management team members. Every team member is equally important to us and our hearts go out to their families,” said Nicholas Ancrum, vice president of Foundation Food Group, in a statement.
WSB reports that the facility, formerly known as Prime Pak Foods, has been subject to three OSHA investigations since 2017. There was a fine in 2019 for an employee face and eye protection violation, as well as two violations in 2017 for employee amputations.
The names of the employees who died have not been released.
Sources: WSB, Atlanta Journal-Constitution