At least six people were killed and nine sustained injuries Thursday morning after a chemical leak at a Hall County, Georgia food processing plant. According to officials, the incident started with a liquid nitrogen leak at the Prime-Pak Foods facility in Gainesville.
Early reports categorized the incident as an explosion, but investigators later confirmed it was a leak.
What Happened During the Gainesville Food Processing Chemical Leak?
During a news conference, officials revealed that five people died at the plant while the sixth person succumbed to their injuries at the hospital.
Gainesville police closed Memorial Park Drive from Browns Bridge Road to Atlanta Highway. They’re requesting that members of the public avoid the area. Additionally, students at the nearby Lyman Hall Elementary School sheltered in place as authorities worked to control the situation.
According to Hall County Fire Division Chief Zachary Brackett, the cause of the leak remains under investigation.
“The Hall County Sherriff’s Office is handling the death investigation, the Georgia State Fire Marshal’s Office and OSHA are on the scene in an investigatory capacity, as well," Brackett said during the press conference.
When responders arrived at the scene, they reported finding wandering workers outside of the plant, some of them showing signs of injury. At least three people were transported to a nearby hospital in critical condition, while five were in fair condition. At the time of the announcement, another person was en route for treatment. Their condition has yet to be released.
Roughly 130 people were evacuated from the area and were taken to a nearby church for evaluation. Among the injured were three Gainesville firefighters and a firefighter from Hall County.
What Does Prime-Pak Foods Do?
Prime-Pak Foods produces beef, poultry, and pork products and caters to the foodservice and retail sectors. In 2018, the company merged with Victory Processing to form Foundation Food Group. According to The Guardian, this venture focuses on processing raw chicken into chicken fingers and other products. The company is based in Gainesville, the largest poultry production center in the nation.
Our team will continue to follow this story as investigators release more details about it.