Pilgrim's plant fined $107,000 for ammonia leak
State officials have fined a Pilgrim's Pride Union County, N.C. plant for more than $107,000 following an ammonia leak there last August, reports The Charlotte Observer. Inspectors issued the plant, located on U.S. 74 in Marshville, more than 30 citations for various issues, some related to the ammonia leak, according to a report from the N.C. Department of Labor.
Some of the citations involved issues such as platforms not guarded by railings and a lack of options in hearing protection, according to the report. But some address problems found in the refrigeration system. One citation says several pieces of equipment had not been inspected since 2009.
Many citations revolve around the ammonia leak, which occurred on August 16, 2011. Officials said they found that the plant's emergency plan didn't include procedures to determine safe exit routes and assembly areas. The plan also didn't specify the personal protective equipment emergency responders were supposed to wear if a leak occurred. The majority of the citations are classified as "serious."
The leak led to the evacuation of 550 employees and 25 families who lived nearby. There were no injuries as a result, though the plant itself was damaged. Officials stated that the emergency plan was not implemented during the leak, as "four employees did not evacuate and remained in the (ammonia) release area to perform various activities."
After the leak was confirmed, employees attempting to locate the source of the leak didn't use eye, face, body and respiratory protection, the report says. The plant must correct the violations and pay the fines unless it plans to contest the charges within a specified time period.
Source: The Charlotte Observer