Newsline

What caused the ammonia leak?

April 12, 2000
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
An ammonia leak that seems to have a faulty valve at the heart of the failure has touched off a cascade of consequences involving the Chicago Fire and Police departments, an engineering organization, county and state Attorney General offices, and the EPA.

It started as a leak of anhydrous ammonia on March 22 at a cold storage facility on Chicago’s South Side. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that four employees and a bystander inhaled ammonia fumes, were taken to hospitals for treatment, and then released. Four others complained of illness, the newspaper said. Police cordoned off a 16-block area for two hours during morning rush.

The building is owned by La Grou Cold Storage and is used for the distribution of food and related grocery products.

Detailed Investigation

On the same day of the incident, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) offered its assistance in the investigation of the leak.

“Although ASSE is not commenting directly on the cause of the accident, we are urging officials to do a detailed incident investigation procedure utilizing the tenets of system safety analysis, engineering, and facility operating procedures,” said ASSE president Frank Perry.

“We look forward to working with those investigating this accident, reviewing the results, offering our membership’s expertise, and distributing the information to all safety professionals.”

Operations halted

Six days later, Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan filed court documents to bar La Grou “from operating a failed refrigeration system that allegedly caused the release of an undetermined amount of anhydrous ammonia.”

Ryan’s office became involved at the prompting of the Illinois EPA and was joined in a two-count complaint by the Cook County’s State Attorney.

According to a statement from Ryan’s office, the three governmental agencies “allege that a failed valve in the system serving the company’s north shipping docks caused the release of the extremely hazardous substance in violation of several state and federal health, safety, and air pollution laws.”

The legal outcome:

  • Prevents the cold storage facility refrigeration equipment from being started up again until getting approval from the three governmental agencies;
  • Requires seven years of inspection and maintenance records to be turned over to the state government;
  • Requires that “the failed valve and any loose parts” be turned over to an engineering firm acceptable to the state for analysis; and
  • Gives the company six months to install and begin operating an ammonia leak-detection system.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to The NEWS Magazine

Recent Articles by Peter Powell

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

2014 World Energy Engineering Congress

Scenes from the 2014 World Energy Engineering Congress in Washington, D.C.

Podcasts

NEWSMakers: Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson,an experienced trade school and community college instructor, discusses the HVAC industry and his column in The NEWS, ‘The Service Ticket.’ Listen now for a hint to the Not Enough Heat question from the Dec. 15 issue. Posted Jan. 30.

More Podcasts

ACHRNEWS

NEWS 01-26-15 cover

2015 January 26

Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Regional Standards

With regional standards for a/c equipment going into effect in 2015, how do you think it will impact the industry?
View Results Poll Archive

HVACR INDUSTRY STORE

2015.jpg
2015 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research

 

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

DON'T MISS A THING

Magazine image
 
Register today for complete access to ACHRNews.com. Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.

STAY CONNECTED

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con