Liquid Nitrogen leak kills six at Gainesville food processing plant

GAINESVILLE — At least six people are dead after a liquid nitrogen line ruptured at a food processing plant in Gainesville Thursday.

Hall County Fire Services responded along with the Gainesville Fire Department to a report of burns at Prime Pak Foods at 10:12 a.m. Thursday,

Upon arrival, firefighters found a large group of employees that had evacuated, along with multiple victims who were experiencing medical emergencies around the facility.

Additional resources were requested, and the assignment was updated to a Hazardous Materials response at 10:18 a.m.

Hall County Fire Services transported nine patients to Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Three of those patients were Gainesville firefighters, and one was a Hall County firefighter. All three were transported for evaluation of respiratory complaints.

Fire officials say 130 Prime Pak personnel were taken by school buses provided by the Hall County School System to Free Chapel Church for evaluation by medical personnel from Northeast Georgia Health Systems.

One additional patient has been transported from this location for a total of 10 patients transported. 

The product in question has been confirmed to be liquid nitrogen. No explosion occurred. A leak of unknown cause occurred in their system. The cause will remain under investigation.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp called the chemical leak a tragedy and said state officials were on the ground to assist with the local response and investigation.

“Marty, the girls and I ask all Georgians to join us for praying for the families facing a terrible loss and the other employees who are receiving medical care,” Kemp said. “May God be a hand of peace, comfort, and healing in the days ahead.”

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board is deploying to the scene of a fatal chemical release at Prime Pak Foods in Gainesville, GA. Two CSB investigators are scheduled to arrive in Georgia later this evening. The remaining team members will be arriving Friday.  Dr. Lemos, CSB CEO and Chairman, will also be arriving on Friday.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office is managing the death investigation. The Georgia State Fire Marshal’s Office and OSHA are on scene in an investigatory capacity as well.

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