“As a precaution we immediately evacuated about 250 employees when an ammonia smell entered part of our Rogers Chick ‘n Quick facility [Wednesday afternoon] as we performed maintenance on the roof,” a company spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.
“Some team members asked to see a doctor and went to two area hospitals for observation. Fortunately, all of our employees who asked to see a doctor following the event were released from observation within a few hours.”
In a statement to the media, Tyson officials said, “Initial readings inside the plant indicate that ammonia was not detected in the environment.”
As seen on TV
It is typical for companies that experience potentially dangerous incidents to frame their communication in the best possible light, and Tyson is no exception. However, Rogers fire chief Tom Jenkins told another side of the story during interviews with a local TV reporter.
“We were originally called to the plant because of a medical emergency — someone had passed out,” Jenkins said.
When firefighters arrived, they encountered a hazardous material (hazmat) situation, according to 40/29 TV. More Tyson employees were sick, complaining of difficulty with breathing and swallowing.
Emergency vehicles took several of those employees to an area hospital. In all, 25 employees sought medical attention.
Other local media reports provided further details: The leak was detected at about 3:30 pm and nearly 29 emergency personnel were dispatched to the facility. The plant’s emergency response team quickly sealed the leak, and employees were allowed back inside within an hour. Production resumed at 7 pm.
“The health and safety of our employees is very important to us,” the Tyson spokesman said. “That’s why we have extensive safety and health training, programs and policies in place at all of our facilities. Our emergency plans worked as they were designed to.”