GAINESVILLE, Ga, (AP) — A liquid nitrogen leak at a northeast Georgia poultry plant killed six people Thursday, with multiple others taken to the hospital.
Beth Downs, a spokesperson for Northeast Georgia Health System, said five people died at the Gainesville plant before they could be taken to the hospital, while one person died in the emergency room.
The leak happened after 10 a.m. Thursday at Prime Pak Foods, Hall County Fire Department Division Chief Zach Brackett said. He said firefighters arrived to find workers milling around outside, some with injuries.
At least four firefighters were injured and take to the Gainesville hospital with what Brackett described as respiratory complaints.
Brackett said about 130 workers were taken by bus to a nearby church where they were examined for injuries; some were then taken to the hospital.
Hall County school officials said students were being kept safe inside a nearby elementary school and said the leak was contained and not airborne. About 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) of a road that runs in front of the plant and school was closed.
Prime Pak Foods merged into Foundation Food Group, a company that takes raw chicken and processes it into products like chicken fingers and individual chicken cuts for restaurants and food service operations. The company’s CEO did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Gainesville is the center of Georgia’s poultry industry, which is the nation’s largest, with thousands of employees working for multiple processing plants.