2021 Georgia poultry plant accident

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2021 Georgia poultry plant accident
DateJanuary 28, 2021 (2021-01-28)
Time10:00 a.m., EST
LocationGainesville, Georgia, U.S.
Non-fatal injuries10

The 2021 Georgia poultry plant accident was an industrial disaster that occurred on January 28, 2021, in Gainesville, Georgia, United States. Six people were killed and at least ten were injured when a liquid nitrogen leak occurred inside a poultry processing plant owned by Foundation Food Group.[1]

Background[edit source | edit]

Gainesville employs thousands of employees across many poultry processing plants,[1] earning the city the nickname "Poultry capital of the world".[2] The facility was owned by Prime Pak Foods until January 2021, when it merged into Foundation Food Group.[1] The facility processes raw chicken for foodservice and commercial sale.[3]

The air humans breathe contains ~78% nitrogen and ~21% oxygen.[4][5] Refrigeration systems used in the factory relied on liquid nitrogen as a refrigerant.[1] According to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, when leaked into open air, liquid nitrogen vaporizes into its gaseous state, and is nontoxic. However, the infiltration of large quantities of gaseous nitrogen displaces oxygen in the air, and can lead to death by asphyxiation after a period of time in the oxygen-deprived environment.[1]

Leakage and emergency response[edit source | edit]

The liquid nitrogen leak occurred shortly after 10:00 a.m. EST.[1] It was falsely initially reported to have been an explosion.[3] Five people died at the plant; another died in hospital.[3] Local and county firefighters were notified by 10:12 a.m. of burn victims at the plant;[3] they arrived to find evacuated workers, some injured, outside the building.[1] At least four firefighters reported respiratory issues and were taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center.[1][3] About 130 factory workers were bussed to a Free Chapel church campus in Gainesville and examined for injuries; some were hospitalized.[3] Of the ten people who were hospitalized, three were placed in intensive care.[3] The leak was contained but about 1.5 miles of Memorial Park Drive/Road, where the factory and nearby Lyman Hall Elementary School is located, which was ordered to shelter-in-place, was closed; it had reopened by 1:30 p.m.[3]

Investigation[edit source | edit]

Hall County Fire Department Division Chief Zach Brackett stated that firefighters, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Georgia state fire marshal are investigating the cause of the leak.[1] The cause has yet to be determined.[3]

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Amy, Jeff (January 28, 2021). "Liquid nitrogen leak at Georgia poultry plant kills 6". Associated Press. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  2. Balk, Tim (January 28, 2021). "6 dead after nitrogen leak at Georgia poultry plant". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Watson, Nick (January 28, 2021). "6 killed after liquid nitrogen leak at Prime Pak in Gainesville, more than 130 others being treated, evaluated". Gainesville Times. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  4. Cox, Arthur N., ed. (2000), Allen's Astrophysical Quantities (Fourth ed.), AIP Press, pp. 258–259, ISBN 0-387-98746-0
  5. Haynes, H. M., ed. (2016–2017), CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (97th ed.), CRC Press, p. 14Template:Hyphen3, ISBN 978-1-4987-5428-6

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