Tyson plant resumes operations after ammonia leak

by Bryan Salvage
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CLARKSVILLE, Ark. – Approximately 200 employees were evacuated from a Tyson Foods plant in Clarksville, Ark. by order of plant officials at approximately 6:15 p.m. on July 1 after an ammonia leak was discovered.

“There were no injuries and people were allowed back into the plant about an hour later,” Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman said in an email to meatpoultry.com. “Normal operations resumed.”
Tyson is still investigating the circumstances behind this ammonia leak.

In April, Tyson Foods announced it was working with the Environmental Protection Agency to resolve concerns about maintenance of refrigeration systems at the company's plants in four states.

EPA claimed Tyson had not complied quickly enough with several Risk Management Plan (RMP) requirements at some facilities in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, according to Tyson. Company officials acknowledged there was a period when some refrigeration improvement projects fell behind schedule and Tyson did not meet all the obligations required under the program at several locations.

However, the new program is designed to build upon Tyson Foods’ existing RMPs for the company’s refrigeration systems, which use anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant. The plans are designed to prevent chemical emergencies by requiring a systematic process for managing chemical hazards, including training, worker communication, maintenance and other activities, according to the company.

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