2 people die as a result of ammonia leak



Posted on May 13, 2009 at 9:37 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 15 at 1:26 PM

(WHAS11) - Two men have died after exposure to dangerous concentrations of toxic ammonia. The incident happened at American Cold Storage just southwest of Downtown Louisville. It's a warehouse facility that stores frozen foods for various companies.

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The plant manager told authorities the ammonia vapor was so thick, he couldn't see into the room, where the men were found unconscious.

"We were working and they sounded the alarm for everyone to get out of the building and we came out," said Sherry Wathen.

As about a dozen employees stood safely outside, they realized two of their co-workers were missing.

"They had everyone in the building out really quickly, but the people that were in the room where the ammonia was leaking, didn't come out," said Wathen.

"When the plant manager went back and discovered the leak, the vapors were thick enough that he couldn't see into the room," said Louisville Fire Department Chief Greg Frederick.

Fire trucks, EMS and two hazmat teams rushed to 607 Industry Road, setting up decontamination sites.

They pulled two unconscious men out of the building taking each of them to the hospital.

"One of the victims in a scissor lift inside the room where the ammonia was most concentrated," said Frederick. "One person was on the ground..."

Despite the rescue efforts both men were pronounced dead at the hospital. Authorities say they're not sure how long the men were exposed to the toxic fumes.

"There could be a time lapse between they're working in this room and someone seeing that something happened," said Frederick.

We're told both men were maintenance workers-one in his 30's who'> d only worked here for less than two months. The other-a 50-year-old man.

Chief Frederick says authorities are investigating what caused that leak.