Two ammonia leaks have caused the shutdown and evacuation of a Maple Leaf Foods plant and sent one person to the hospital.
Emergency responders were called to the Schneiders plant (owned by Maple Leaf Foods) in Kitchener, Ontario. According to Tim Beckett, Kitchener fire chief, emergency responders discovered leaks at the site, involving approximately 500 pounds of liquid ammonia.
The two separate leaks, both on the facility’s roof, involved an air conditioner and a drainage line. Crews responded to the incident by “bleeding” off ammonia trapped in the distribution line, open plant windows, and used water to dilute ammonia as they stopped the second leak.
The approximately 550 employees working at the Schneiders facility were evacuated. One person was person was brought to the hospital for medical attention after exposure.
Additionally, nearby residents were instructed to stay inside and shut their doors. Nearby schools also were put on lockdown while crews contained the ammonia.
Hours later, the staff at the Schneiders plant was given the all-clear to return to the facility.
Representatives for Maple Leaf Foods and Schneider were not available for comment. FoodProductionDaily will provide updates as soon as they are available.
Schneiders—a producer of bacon, sausages, burgers, and other meat products—was purchased by Maple Leaf Foods in 2003. The company plans to shutter the Kitchener plant later this year, shifting to a new plant in Hamilton, Ontario.