UPDATE: Smithfield confirms apparent ammonia leak at Tar Heel plant
TAR HEEL, NC (WWAY) — Smithfield Foods says it is working with local emergency agencies to determine the cause of an apparent ammonia leak at its packing plant in Tar Heel in Bladen County, a company spokeswoman said.
An employee tells us there was an ammonia explosion, which caused workers to have burning eyes and made it hard to breathe. Witnesses say there was a plume of smoke, and then workers started choking.
“Our main concern is for the safety of our employees and the community, and all employees have been evacuated,” Smithfield Director of Corporate Communications Kathleen Kirkham said in an e-mail. “We are also working with local authorities to secure the facility.”
The North Carolina Department of Transportation says NC 87 is closed near the plant. It advises drivers to use Chicken Foot Road and NC 20 as a detour.
Multiple ambulances and fire departments have been called out and are on scene.
We have a reporter on the way and will keep you posted with updates throughout the day.
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