6 people dead after nitrogen leak at Prime Pak poultry plant

Six people were killed as a result of a liquid nitrogen leak at the Prime Pak Foods poultry processing plant in Gainesville, Georgia.

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Viktor Birkus | Bigstock.com
Viktor Birkus | Bigstock.com

Six people were killed as a result of a liquid nitrogen leak at the Prime Pak Foods poultry processing plant in Gainesville, Georgia.

Speaking during a press conference, which can be seen on the 5 News website, Hall County Fire Department Division Chief Zachary Brackett said emergency crews responded to the scene around 10:12 a.m. January 28, and upon arrival, they found a large contingency of people who had evacuated the facility. Shortly afterward hazardous material crews were on the scene.

Brackett confirmed the substance that had leaked was liquid nitrogen, adding that contrary to some reports on social media, there was no explosion.

Five people were pronounced dead at the scene, while nine people were transported to a Northeast Georgia Health Systems hospital. One of the transported died at the hospital, bringing fatalities to six, Sean Couch, public relations director for Northeast Georgia Health Systems, said during the press conference.

Four of those transported were firefighters, who were experiencing respiratory problems.

An additional 130 people were transported by a school bus to a nearby church for evaluation by medical staff. One person from that group was also transported to the hospital, Brackett said.

According to Couch, three of the people transported were in critical condition early in the afternoon. Five were in fair condition after being treated in the emergency department. The person being transported from the church was en route at the time of the press conference.

No names of victims have been released at this time.

The deaths are being investigated by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Beckett said. Officials from the Georga State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were also on the scene to investigate the incident.

Beckett and Couch said another press conference was planned for later in the day.

Prime-Pak Foods and Victory Processing recently merged to create Foundation Food Group, Inc.

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