ATLANTA — A third update on the liquid nitrogen leak at the Gainesville, Ga.-based Foundation Food Group Inc. was made public by the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) this week. Six people were killed in the incident on Jan. 28.
New information from CSB’s investigation showed a different operational area inside the plant with possible issues.
“The plant had been experiencing unresolved operational issues on the chicken conveyor that appear to have resulted in the accidental release of liquid nitrogen in the flash freezing bath,” CSB said in its statement.
Previous findings showed that a new cryogenic freezing system on Line 4 of the facility was the main area of suspicion.
In this new update, CSB said that Line 4 was shut down on the conveyor line the morning of the incident due to operational issues. That line was responsible for cooking, freezing, seasoning and packaging of poultry products.
“Foundation Food Group maintenance personnel reported the computerized measuring system indicated a low liquid level in the immersion bath used to flash freeze the chicken products,” CSB said on its report.
Prior to this new freezing system, Foundation Food Group used freezing equipment that was ammonia-based. That equipment was still in the facility near Line 4 and had not been removed.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also looking into Foundation Food Group regarding the leak. In December 2020, the agency opened an investigation against the meat processor.
In October 2020, Foundation Food Group entered into a co-packing partnership with Victory Processing Inc. and Prime-Pak Foods.