An ammonia leak occurred at a Koch Foods poultry plant in Gadsden, Alabama, resulted in 22 people being evaluated at area hospitals.
According to an al.com report, the leak was reported at 4:23 p.m. on November 30, and soon after emergency responders were notified, the plant was evacuated.
Officials with the Gadsden/Etowah County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) said the 22 people sent to hospitals were monitored and/or treated as a precautionary measure.
The Gadsden Times reported that officials felt it was important to have those people evaluated because the ammonia was not dissipating due to weather conditions.
In addition to the Gadsden County EMA, the Gadsden Fire Department, Gadsden Police Department, Gadsden Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team and Glencoe Police Department responded to the incident.
As another precaution, traffic was restricted in areas around the plant until about 7 p.m. Around that same time, workers were allowed to return inside to gather their belongings that had been left inside, but they were then dismissed for the evening.
In August, it was announced that the Koch Foods plant in Gadsden would be expanding. The company’s expansion plans call for the addition of a fourth processing line, which is expected to increase the plant’s production capacity by about 30 percent. When the expansion is completed, an estimated 200 jobs will be added.
Koch Foods is the fifth largest broiler company in the United States and the eighth largest in the world. According to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies Database, Koch Foods produced 50 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken on a weekly basis in 2017, the same amount it produced in 2016. The company was founded in 1985 as a one-room chicken deboning and cutting operation with 13 employees. Since then, it’s grown to a major company with 13,000 employees and operations in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee.