Six killed in GA liquid nitrogen leak at poultry factory

At least six people have died and four firefighters were injured in a liquid nitrogen leak at a poultry plant in Gainesville, Ga., Thursday.

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Six people were killed as a result of a liquid nitrogen leak at Foundation Food Group in Gainesville, authorities said during a 1 p.m. press briefing.

Five were found dead and another died at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, according to hospital spokesperson Sean Couch.

Hall County Fire Departments and the Gainesville Fire were called at around 10:12 a.m. following a report of burns at the plant. Firefighters discovered a large number of employees who had evacuated the building.

Division chief Zach Brackett said there had been no explosion, which he said was wrongly reported on social media.

Authorities called the site Prime-Pak, which merged with Victory Processing Inc. to form Foundation Food Group.

The Hall County Fire Department has transferred nine patients to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Three of them were Gainesville firefighters and a Hall County firefighter “for an assessment of respiratory complaints,” Brackett said at a morning press conference.

More than 130 people were taken by school bus to Free Chapel for evaluation. One of them was also taken to hospital, Couch said. Couch said they were seeing respiratory impacts from those transferred.

The healthcare system has seen more than 270 COVID-19 positive patients since the end of December and peaked at 355 patients on January 8, straining the hospital’s resources. As the numbers have fallen in recent weeks, Couch said they still have increased capacity. There were 14 beds available at the Gainesville hospital on Thursday, according to NGHS data. Couch said capacity was not an issue to accept the 10 that were carried.

The incident closed Memorial Park Drive / Road in the late morning and early afternoon.

Students at nearby Lyman Hall Primary School were safe and inside. Local authorities heard from authorities about the incident at 10:30 a.m.

“They have lunch, go to learning and about their business,” Hall County schools spokesman Stan Lewis said.

Couch added that school officials were informing parents of what had happened. The school plans to lay off at its usual time of 2:20 p.m. as the road is now reopened, Lewis said.

Buses will run but delays can be expected. The school system asked parents to meet with their students at the bus stop to make sure adult supervision was available after the incident.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for investigating the deaths. The Georgia Fire Marshal’s Office and Occupational Safety and Health Administration are on site.

Another press conference was scheduled for Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

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(c) 2021 The Times, Gainesville, Georgia.

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