Cargill - Ammonia Leak - 10 January 2014

Man Remains in Hospital, Cleanup Cancels Additional Shifts

OTTUMWA – The cleanup following the early-morning ammonia leak at Cargill Pork is taking longer than officials originally suspected. According to the Director of Communication Mike Martin, the planned “make-up” shifts for Saturday will be impacted by ongoing cleaning at the facility.

“They decided they are going to eliminate first shift tomorrow and second shift [Saturday] is going to be limited to certain types of jobs, so it’s not going to be a full second shift,” said Martin. “It will mostly involve meat cutting, because they are not going to be harvesting any animals,” said Martin.

Martin told The Post that the additional cleaning time does not indicate a larger ammonia leak, than originally thought.

“The leak wasn’t that extensive, other than it was in an area where it was near the coolers. That is understandable because the bulk of the ammonia is used for the refrigeration system. So, basically what they are going to be doing is cleaning out the coolers, sanitizing the coolers. So, that is why they can’t harvest- bring carcasses in while they are sanitizing and cleaning the coolers,” said Martin.

When The Post asked Martin if it had been determined whether the meat in the plant had been harmed by the ammonia, he stated that a conclusion has not been made at this time.

“It is still being assessed,” said Martin.

The boiler/refrigeration supervisor, who was exposed to the ammonia, remains at the hospital at this time.

“The supervisor that was taken to the hospital, he is still in stable condition and doing okay,” said Martin. “He is still in the hospital because they want to make sure that his respiratory system is okay, from being exposed to ammonia.”