Dangerous chemical leaks at Forest Grove warehouse
A dangerous chemical leak drew local fire and rescue crews to Forest Grove Sunday night, July 24.
Forty-five emergency personnel, including a hazardous materials team from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, responded to the leak of anhydrous ammonia at Lineage Logistics, a cold storage facility, at 4124 24th Ave.
"Hazmat teams first used special sensors to test the air around the building. Once it was deemed safe, they were able to then make entry into a safe portion of the building to turn off all valves that supplied the affected area. With the valves turned off, hazmat technicians wore highly protective suits and opened the doors to the room to ventilate the ammonia out," Forest Grove Fire & Rescue spokesperson Matt Johnston said in a news release. "Powerful ventilation fans were also used to help force the ammonia gas out of the building, to then dissipate into the atmosphere. The process of safely planning and performing the tasks took several hours."
As of Monday morning, July 25, a fire crew, two hazmat teams and an ambulance were still on scene ventilating the room and taking hourly readings until ammonia levels became safe for facility workers to enter.
Johnston noted that there was "an extremely strong" ammonia odor outside the warehouse. While he characterized the ammonia stench as "not hazardous," he added that it was strong enough to cause people to experience a burning sensation in their eyes and nose.
"If this causes breathing problems with anyone in the area, we suggest they call 9-1-1 immediately," Johnston concluded.
During the incident, a few employees at nearby businesses sheltered in place, but no local residents needed to evacuate and no injuries were reported, according to the release.
The cause of the leak is unknown at this time.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anhydrous ammonia has numerous industrial uses, but it's also a key ingredient for illicit methamphetamine production in makeshift laboratories — one of the chemicals that makes meth labs dangerous.
Exposure to anhydrous ammonia can be immediately dangerous to life or health. The chemical is generally is not available for sale to the public without a license.
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