Ammonia leak at meat processing co. contained

August 14, 2008 11:06:56 AM PDT
It was a scary morning for several workers and neighbors in southeast Houston after an apparent ammonia leak.Firefighters rushed to the scene of the leak at the Freedman Food Service Warehouse on Polk near Delano.

An HFD crew was able to hit an emergency switch that has stopped the ammonia from spewing out of the leak. Crews are using equipment to ventilate the building.

The fire department was called about 6:40am and saw a vapor cloud escaping the top of the building. About a dozen workers had to leave the warehouse.

Officials say ammonia is used to cool this building where meat is processed for restaurants. A sensor picked up on the leak and shut down the system. But as a precaution, workers and residents living near the building had to leave the area.

"It was a strong odor and it stung my eyes and it was hard to breath this morning when I came out with the dogs," said resident David Haynes. "So, I wanted to take them and clear the way a little bit and the breeze is clearing some away but still it comes back strong."

"They just told us to come over here and go around that corner but that wind is going that way so I just came this way," said worker Tony Martinez. "It smelled over there. It smells like ammonia and over here it doesn't smell like it."

Company officials say the workers that were in the building this morning when the leak happened were from a cleanup crew from overnight.

There is no word on what caused the leak.

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