SLIDESHOW: Evacuation at JBS Swift plant
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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB Fox 41) -- The all-clear has been sounded for people living near the JBS Swift plant in Butchertown.
MetroSafe says 80 pounds of anhydrous ammonia spilled at the plant. 1,000 workers were told around 11 a.m. to evacuate, and the plant deployed its own hazardous materials crew. Our crew at the scene reported a light smell of ammonia in the air. Fire officials say everyone in the plant is accounted for.
Only one worker was transported to the hospital by ambulance. He was said to be vomiting and complaining of nausea. But officials say he was not in the area near the spill.
Fire officials say the leak came from a refrigeration system in the plant's engine room. Fire officials say there were no actual readings that any gas has escaped from the plant, but suggested for a time that neighbors stay inside. That advice was lifted about three hours later.
Anhydrous ammonia is an irritant, and the substance is the same as what is used in household cleaning products, though the concentration in such products is about 2-3%.
Plant workers stood outside the plant Wednesday afternoon as firefighters entered the facility to determine the extent of the emergency and look for the source of the leak.
Swift has been under fire previously for violating zoning laws when it expanded its facility without proper approval.
Many Butchertown residents wanted the city to revoke the plant's use permit forcing it to re-apply, move elsewhere, or shut down completely.
But others wanted to retain the company's jobs as well as $40 million in salaries and wages, saying it would devastate the local economy if they were lost.