The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into last week’s anhydrous ammonia release inside the Tyson Fresh Meats Facility in Lexington. OSHA spokesman Scott Allen says the agency has up to six months to complete its inspection, issue citations and propose penalties if violations of safety and or health regulations are found. Meanwhile, the number of patients treated through Lexington Regional Health Center has increased. By late afternoon on September 4th, Lexington Regional had treated 20 patients. But, Health Information Management Director LeAnn Muegerl says five more patients came in after that initial report. Of those 25 patients, one was transferred to another facility in critical condition and four patients where admitted to Lexington Regional Health Center for further observation and the rest of the patients were treated and released. Muegerl said LRHC staff also went to the Tyson plant to assist with patient care after patient care at the hospital had been established.
Preliminary information from Lexington Fire Chief Holbein indicates the ammonia release occurred during maintenance on one of the valves when a gauge broke off. Holbein said Tyson team members quickly contained the leak but, the who facility was evacuated to allow the area to be aired out.
In a previous statement Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman said said “the health and safety of our team members is extremely important to us. We’ll continue to investigate this incident so we can prevent repeating it in the future.”
Lexington Volunteer Fire Department, Midwest Medical Transport, Priority Medical Transport, Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, Dawson County Emergency Management and Lexington Police Department also responded to the scene.