Plant Evacuated Due to Ammonia Leak

September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 12, 2010 at 11:39 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 12, 2010 at 11:39 PM EDT

The leak happened in the Village of Oakfield in Genesee County at a vegetable processing plant. Nearly 70 employees were in the building at the time of the leak but they all got out safely.

Allen's Products in the Village of Oakfield distributes locally grown vegetables. The refrigeration system used to freeze the vegetables relies on more than 38,000 pounds of ammonia. Today workers saw ammonia spewing out of exhaust vents inside the factory and rang emergency alarms.

"If anybody has ever inhaled ammonia, you get that brief, you know whiff of it type of thing. What we did is we knocked that down with water and basically when it comes out we just put a mist of water over it to try to knock it down," said Sean Downing, Chief of the Oakfield Fire Department.

The leak happened around 12:30 p.m. It took almost two hours before crews were able to stop it. The company has their own trained HAZMAT team, but called local fire departments for help.

"We were able to work together with their people and my people being able to go in, discover the cause and able to shut off the valve stop the leak from occurring," said Jeff Clark, Facilities Manager of Allen's Products.

Fire officials sent out a reverse 911 call to almost 1500 residents within a half-mile radius of the plant, advising them to stay indoors and shut-their windows. There were no reported injuries from the public; however, a fire fighter got sick from heat exhaustion.

The company has hired an outside contractor to help with the investigation into the cause of the leak. All of the food products that were in production today will be destroyed.