Smithfield plant re-opens
TAR HEEL, NC – Smithfield Foods' Tar Heel, NC, pork-processing plant returned to full production on June 20 following the collapse of a water tank plus a ruptured ammonia valve.
Dennis Pittman, director of communications, said the plant originally wasn't going to run June 20-21, but clean-up and maintenance crews were able to get the facility running again.
"We're really pleased that everyone is back to work," Pittman said.
A holding tank for hot water "just came apart all at one time," Pittman said. Approximately 300,000 gallons of water spilled to the floor, and a valve on an ammonia reserve tank broke off leading to the evacuation of more than 2,000 workers.
Transformers also were knocked over, Pittman said. The company brought in four generators to lower the temperature inside the plant until the power grid was restored. Now that clean-up is winding down, the next step will be counting meat losses. Pittman said the losses won't be nearly as big as previously thought.
The Tar Heel plant is the largest pork-processing facility in the United States with an estimated slaughtering capacity of up to 34,000 hogs per day.