1 DEC 2022: Ammonia leak from failing flange on NH3 storage tank
Dec 1, 2022: An early morning ammonia leak at Company forced the closure of a public elementary school and shut down two local highways headed into the city for more than five hours Thursday, authorities said. The leak was reported about 6:30 a.m. when a flange failed on an ammonia storage tank in a loading area for the complex just outside of the Company, Company and state officials said. Students and staff of a local school had class at another public school a few miles southwest of the plant to avoid the early morning leak, school officials said. A school of about 460 young children is located within sight of the plant. The plant, which is separated from the school by a cane field, creates ammonia and uses it as a central element in its production process to create agricultural fertilizers. No injuries were reported, officials said. Before emergency workers got the leak under control, they sprayed water on the faulty flange to prevent the ammonia gas from continuing to spread. The gas, which is generally lighter than air, is soluble in water. Once it is hit with the water spray, it is washed onto the ground, said the state Department of Environmental Quality’s spokesman. He couldn’t say how much ammonia was in the storage tank before the leak began. Within seven days, the Company will be required to submit to DEQ estimates of how much ammonia leaked. Some time later, those reports become public in an online agency database.