WEST LIBERTY, Iowa - An ammonia leak Sunday, Nov. 28, at a food plant here caused the evacuation of a three-block area and made at least five residents ill, according to reports from theMuscatine (Iowa) Journaland the Des Moines (Iowa) Register.

A statement from a security guard at West Liberty Foods said a mechanical failure in a refrigeration unit lead to the leak which was discovered about 6:30 a.m. According to reports, repairs were completed within a few hours and no food products were affected.

The West Liberty police, four area fire departments, and the Muscatine County Hazardous Materials Team responded. The evacuation was ordered shortly after the leak was reported and residents were allowed to return to their homes later in the day. Five residents who said they became ill because of the fumes were taken to an Iowa City hospital for treatment.

"Everything went very smoothly and according to the emergency plan," said Mayor Bill Phelps.

Publication date: 11/29/2004