VANDALIA — Solid planning and training paid off on Tuesday at the White Castle food processing plant in Vandalia.
Emergency crews were called to the plant after a maintenance work lead to a leak of anhydrous ammonia. The plant, which had around 75 employees on site at the time, was immediately evacuated according to Vandalia Fire Chief Chad Follick.
“The protocol for an anhydrous ammonia leak is to evacuate,” said Follick. “They thought the leak was contained, but we found it was not quite contained.”
Follick said there were no injuries or illnesses suffered by employees or fire crews charged with ventilating the plant. About 60 employees were transported by bus to the Vandalia Recreation Center where they waited until the all-clear signal was given around 2:40 p.m.
“Because White Castle followed protocol, there were no injuries,” said Follick.
The Dayton Regional Hazardous Materials Team (HAZMAT) was called to the scene as were crews from Butler Township, Huber Heights, Harrison Township, Tipp City, New Carlisle, and Bethel Township.
White Castle’s Quality Assurance Manager Whitney Baker said that the leak did not affect any of the company’s food products.
“There’s no food safety risk at this time,” Baker told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “Of course we’ll evaluate the product before we resume production.”
Follick said that the plant had to remain closed for several hours because the leak was in an enclosed area and that “ammonia is hard to move.”
He said that Tuesday’s response is an example of the Division of Fire’s training and coordination with local businesses that benefits everyone.
“We have worked with White Castle very closely on their emergency planning, and they did everything they were supposed to do,” he said. “As a result, no one was hurt. We couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.