Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Everyday ammonia leaks

After an ammonia gas leak, and for the second day, fire crews tackle a blaze at a food processing plant in Cudahy, Wisconsin. Residents near the plant had previously been evacuated.

This ammonia leak is the most recent in a catalogue of worldwide accidents involving this pollutant of key environmental concern that can cause serious or even fatal respiratory injuries …

6 July Belleville, Illinois
Residents in the immediate vicinity of a food processing plant were confined indoors after the St Clair County HAZMAT team found an ammonia leak.

6 July Waggaman, Louisiana
Residents reported burning eyes and strong odors following a release of ammonia when a heavy thunderstorm resulted in a power outage at a manufacturing facility.

5 July Cotswold Dene, UK
A factory had to be evacuated when a large ammonia leak needed firefighters with breathing apparatus to stem the leak in a refrigeration unit.

1 July Dallas, Texas
An ammonia leak prompted the evacuation of 70 workers from a food packaging company.

27 June Tertre, Belgium
Two people were injured when an explosion caused substantial damage to a fertilizer plant, caused by plant design weaknesses and operating procedure deficiencies.

27 June Alberta, Canada
Police closed off streets whilst HAZMAT units investigated an ammonia leak from three 682 kg ammonia tanks and paramedics checked workers evacuated from the facility.

25 June Lawrence, Indianapolis
An ammonia leak forced a few homes and a Wal-mart to evacuate when 4 cubic meters of ammonia leaked out of a tank in just 40 minutes, sending a cloud of ammonia into the air.

24 June Aurora, Illinois
An ammonia leak at a carbon dioxide liquefaction plant was caused by a sticking valve and a potentially serious situation was averted.

22 June Jefferson City, Missouri
A damaged regulator caused an ammonia leak, prompting the evacuation of a business whilst firefighters wearing HAZMAT suits investigated.

21 June Bayou La Batre, Alabama
Residents in the immediate vicinity of a food processing plant were confined indoors and an officer was transported to USA Medical Center after suffering from ammonia inhalation.

20 June Lumber Bridge, North Carolina
One person was killed and three people were injured when ammonia leaked at a food processing plant.

9 June Garner, North Carolina
38 people were injured and three fire fighters were treated for ammonia inhalation when a 130 cubic meter refrigeration system ruptured in the aftermath of an explosion.

The above incidents are only the ones that have been reported and I’d suggest that they are only a fraction of the total number of daily global accidental ammonia leaks.

Ammonia emissions produce environmental problems, from acid soil to biodiversity reductions and dust, which cause health problems such as asthma. Biomass burning creates ammonia and global ammonia emissions have more than doubled since pre-industrial times.

Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia can result in lung damage and death to humans, whilst ammonia in even dilute concentrations is highly toxic to aquatic animals.

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