Niagara Gazette


March 17, 2014

Ammonia leak contained at Tonawanda Coca Cola plant

An ammonia leak at a Town of Tonawanda Coca Cola plant early Monday sent dozens of emergency workers to Milens Road, though much of the leak was contained in the interior of the structure where few employees were present. 

The leak, caused by an overheating tank that holds a liquid form of ammonia, was halted before it could spread by a relief valve, according to Sheridan Park Volunteer Fire Company First Assistant Chief Randy Rider. 

Rider said a hazardous materials team from the Brighton Fire Company assisted his outfit, with several firefighters entering the building where they found the leak and addressed initial concerns over the possible release of ammonia into the surrounding area.  

Members of the Kenmore Fire Department as well as Town of Tonawanda police also assisted, with no injuries reported, nor were evacuation procedures necessary.   

The company transfers liquid ammonia from a tank located on the plant's exterior to another on the inside of the structure. While in liquid form during the transfer process, if it were to leak into the air it would turn into a gaseous state and become more dangerous, Rider said.

"The relief valve served it's purpose," he said. "If it wasn't for the relief valve it could have been far worse." 

If ammonia had leaked outside the building, Rider noted that low winds of 2 mph as well as the fact the building was backed up to the 290 Interstate in an industrial area, would have lessened the danger for residents living nearby. 

He also said a change in a contract that allows town employees who also serve as volunteer firefighters to attend to emergencies meant  several additional firefighters on the scene. 

Milens Road was shutdown for about an hour Monday.

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