Food processing giant Kraft Foods was forced to order the evacuation of around 1,800 people after a mixing error at a cream cheese factory in Germany created a cloud of hazardous gas.
The incident, which took place at the company’s Bad Fallingbostel plant in North Germany earlier this week, resulted in the evacuation of the facility’s 250 employees and 1,500 people from a nearby residential area.
According to reports from the country, the evacuation was initiated after nitric acid was accidentally mixed into a tank containing sodium hydroxide.
In a statement sent to DairyReporter.com, Kraft Foods confirmed that no injuries have been reported in relation to the incident.
A state of emergency declared by local government officials has since been lifted, and Kraft Foods has launched an investigation into the incident.
“We confirm that on Monday 15 October at midday in the Kraft Foods Factory Bad Fallingbostel an incident occurred when two compounds of acid and basic lye were inadvertently mixed together. This lead to a chemical reaction,” said the Kraft Foods statement.
“The reaction was noticed immediately and the fire department and authorities were alerted. There were no injuries.”
All 250 of the plant’s employees were evacuated on news of the incident, and Am Weinberg – a neighbouring residential area – was also cleared as a “precautionary measure.”
Another chemical reaction was reported during a cleaning procedure, which according to Kraft Foods, created a cloud of gas.
“Shortly after the local governmental authorities declared a state of emergency,” said the firm. “The evacuation zone was increased by 500m around the perimeter of the factory. As a result, 1,500 residents were evacuated.”
According to Kraft Foods, approximately 1,000 personnel from local fire departments, ambulance services, experts in hazardous materials, and police were on the scene supporting the evacuation.
“On 16 October at 15.45pm after the successful emptying of the tank, the authorities lifted the state of emergency and ended the evacuation. People were allowed to return to their houses. We are very thankful for the full support of all authorities and local government involved,” said the firm.
“Next step will be to undertake a full investigation to prevent this situation from reoccurring,” the statement concluded.