Ammonia Leak in Mo. Hurts 8


One person was hospitalized and seven other were overcome by fumes from an ammonia leak at a processing plant in south Kansas City Tuesday afternoon.

At about 2:30 p.m., an ammonia pipe in the engineering room of the Cook's Ham plant started leaking. The fumes in the building, located at about Highway 150 and Wyandotte Street, were strong enough that workers had trouble breathing even after they had been evacuated.

"Very strong. I think some people thought they were going to get sick, but I didn't see anybody pass out," worker Jackie Ralls told KMBC's Micheal Mahoney.

Members of a hazardous material unit gathered at the plant and went in to help shut down the leaking pipe.

One worker who tried shutting down the pipe valves was taken to a hospital with burns around his hands, face and eyes.

Seven others were treated at the scene.

The evacuation was orderly, but long. Workers were first taken to the north side of the plant, then sent to the other side because the wind was blowing the fumes into the crowd.

Industrial ammonia is often used as a cooling agent.

"It's a lot like freon. In heavy concentrations, it can carry heat away," worker Richard Smith said.

"We were able to shut down the valves. Now they're looking to isolate the leak. Or see if still exists, so they can fix it. Then get their system back up and running," Firefighter Joe Vitale said.

Authorities temporarily shut down a section of Highway 150 between as a precaution. The highway was reopened at about 4:30 p.m.

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