Liquid Nitrogen Leak in Georgia Kills 6 and Injures 11

Samantha Elkins, Multimedia Video Editor

On Thursday, Jan. 28, a nitrogen leak erupted in Pak Prime Foods, a poultry processing plant in Gainesville, Georgia, killing six and hospitalizing eleven.

Officials report that at least three victims remain in critical condition and all those who underwent hospitalization have respiratory issues. Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said that two Mexican citizens fell victim to the deadly nitrogen gas.

A worker claims no explosion occurred, but chaos did ensue in the building and firefighters found five dead on the scene, with another person dying once they reached a hospital. 

Odorless, colorless and extremely cold, liquid nitrogen possesses an extremely dangerous threat. It displaces moveable oxygen which moves away breathable air. If exposed, delicate tissue such as the eyes can grow severely damaged and exposure can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting and death. 

“You don’t ever work with chemicals unless you know what you’re dealing with. That’s why we have safety protocols for every chemical we deal with and every procedure we deal with” Miami Palmetto Senior High Schools chemistry teacher Wendi Werther said. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration previously gave the Prime Pak Foods factory 12 infractions with the most recent one occurring last year, in regards to eye and face protection violations. 

In 2017, two workers underwent amputations due to losing fingers from getting them stuck in machinery. Records say that in 2019 the plant suffered fines amounting to $3,750. 

Georgia is known as“the poultry capital of the world,” due to its large number of processing plants. Other poultry plants in the state may tighten their safety measures as the recent incident has placed increasing pressure upon them. 

Concerning COVID-19, thousands of workers have contracted the virus or come in contact with it due to the close proximity of their work spaces. 

Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia released a statement expressing his sadness and best wishes for the families who lost loved ones and those hospitalized. 

The U.S. The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board began investigating what caused the leak on Thursday at Prime Pak Foods. The search continues, but it may take some time before a definite answer becomes available to the public.

“With every chemical that I handle or every procedure that I do, I know exactly what could go wrong and take precautions about it. Before we do anything you guys need to know how to remedy a situation.” Werther said.

As of the present, the names of the deceased remain undisclosed.