An ammonia leak at a coastal Alabama chicken distribution plant sent more than 120 people to the hospital on Monday, including four patients in intensive care, and forced residents to hide in their homes while warning sirens blared. At least 29 people were admitted to Mobile-area hospitals, including the four in intensive care. Injuries to most of those admitted were not believed to be life-threatening, and others were treated and released, mostly for breathing difficulties. "It was scary not knowing what the chemical was," said Teri Anderson, who lives near the plant and was first alerted by one of the sirens. She was told by emergency officials to seal her windows and doors, and shut off her air conditioner.
The leak also forced workers to evacuate one of BP PLC's main staging areas for the oil spill cleanup. BP said dozens of cleanup workers from its Theodore site were among those taken to hospitals. The leak was reported at mid-morning at Millard Refrigerated Services, which uses ammonia in the refrigeration process for chickens that are frozen and shipped around the world. The plant on the Theodore Industrial Canal, south of Mobile, is among numerous chemical plants and factories in the county.
Between 400 gallons (1,500 liters) and 800 gallons (3,000 liters) of ammonia leaked at the site, said Capt. Shaun Hicks of the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department.
BP said 65 of its workers were taken to hospitals from the complex that's used for storage, boom decontamination and repair along the canal.