May 23, 2013
All seven people sent to Newman Regional Health after a "low-level" ammonia leak Thursday have been released.
Emergency workers were dispatched to the Tyson plant at Sixth and Prairie shortly after 8:30 a.m. Emporia Fire Battalion Chief Rich Gould says Tyson officials on site indicated up to 10 parts per million of ammonia were registered on company equipment, well below what's considered lethal at 300 parts per million.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says 50 parts per million is acceptable over the course of an eight-hour shift.
In a set of emails, Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the leak temporarily disrupted production in part of the processing plant before it was found and stopped. Operations were put on hold briefly but have since resumed.
About six weeks ago, Tyson Foods agreed to pay a nearly $4 million civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act largely because of ammonia issues. In April 2009, there was an accidental release resulting in injuries for one person. Seven months later, an inspection revealed the safety relief valves weren't tested or replaced as needed. Tyson issued a news release admitting some improvement projects fell behind schedule and the company cooperated immediately to make improvements.