6 dead, 11 hospitalized due to liquid nitrogen leak at Georgia poultry farm

6 dead, 11 hospitalized due to liquid nitrogen leak at Georgia poultry farm

A liquid nitrogen leak at a Foundation Food Group plant in Gainesville killed six people and hospitalized 11 others with injuries.

Authorities in Georgia said Thursday a liquid nitrogen leak at a northeast Georgia poultry plant injured some personnel. Three of the injured still remain in critical condition.

Poultry farms use refrigeration systems that can contain liquid nitrogen. Sheriff’s deputies, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the state fire chief are investigating the cause of the accident and deaths. “It’s going to be a long process,” said Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch.

Foundation Food Group Vice President of Human Resources Nicholas Ancram called the leak a tragic accident and said early indications are that a nitrogen line ruptured at the plant. When released into the air, liquid nitrogen turns into an odorless gas capable of displacing oxygen. This means that leaks in enclosed areas can be fatal due to the outflow of breathable air.

Gainesville is the center of Georgia’s poultry industry, the largest in the country. Thousands of employees work at several processing plants throughout the city, and most of the workforce, like many meatpacking plants around the country, are Hispanic.