SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Workers were evacuated at two northwest Arkansas meat processing plants — one a Tyson Foods plant, the other a Cargill facility — on the morning of Feb. 6 due to ammonia leaks, according to The Associated Press.
“This is a turkey processing facility that employs approximately 1,100 people across two shifts,” Mike Martin, Cargill spokesman, told MEATPOULTRY.com. “Here’s what we know: Some routine work was being done in the engine room, where the ammonia is located. Ammonia is used as a refrigerant in our meat-processing facilities. There was an error that occurred during the work that resulted in the release of ammonia. There were no injuries that resulted from the release. We are in the process of determining the amount of ammonia that was released, and we plan to be back in operation with the second shift later this afternoon.”
Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman verified to MEATPOULTRY.com there was an ammonia leak from a freezer line on the west side of Tyson’s Springdale Berry Street plant at about 9:30 a.m. on Feb 6. “All employees were evacuated from the plant and 10 were taken to a local hospital as a precautionary measure,” he added. “Currently, nine of those remain in the hospital for observation.”
By 10:20 a.m., the Springdale Fire Department had cleared the Tyson Springdale plant for re-entry, however, Tyson’s environmental health and safety team continued to survey the plant before allowing work to resume. The plant was back to full operation by noon.