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Ammonia leaks hit 2 US cold-storage facilities

Two separate cold-storage facilities suffered from roof collapses and subsequent ammonia leaks, within hours of each other.

Performance Food Group’s (PFG) Customized Distribution facility in Kendallville, Indiana, and Cloverleaf Cold Storage in Napoleon, Ohio, both reported roof collapses, ammonia leaks, and employees requiring medical attention for chemical exposure.

While each of the incidents are still being investigated, both facilities are situated in parts of the US that have seen heavy, accumulated snowfall in recent weeks, which could have weighted the roofs down and led to the collapse.

Performance Food Group

The roof at PFG Customized Distribution collapsed shortly before 11:30 a.m., leading to a leak of anhydrous ammonia. Officials are still investigating the cause of the incident but speculate accumulated snow and ice may have caused the roof to fail, debris to strike ammonia pipes, and the chemical to escape.

Kendallville emergency responders reported 30 staffers were exposed to the ammonia, and eight were sent off for medical attention. The PFG Customized Distribution facility includes freezer space, cold storage area, refrigerated dock, and office and logistics space.

Cloverleaf Cold Storage

Just before 1 p.m., emergency responders were called to the Cloverleaf Cold Storage’s Farmers Produce facility. A roof collapse in the building’s loading dock area reportedly caused an ammonia pipe to burst and leak.

In a statement on the Cloverleaf website, the company reported 11 plant workers were exposed. Three were hospitalized; two were released, and one is still being held for observation.

The Farmers Produce location in Napoleon offers a range of repackaging, cooling, freezing and tempering services. It also offers metal and foreign-object detection of food products.

Neither corporate nor local officials for either of the two affected cold-storage facilities could be reached for comment. FoodProductionDaily will provide updates on the incidents as soon as they are available.

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