TAR HEEL — The Smithfield Packaging plant in Tar Heel remains closed today as workers continued to clean up from an ammonia leak that occurred Tuesday morning.
Company Spokesman Dennis Pittman said this morning that first and second shifts are cancelled for Wednesday and he expected an announcement to be made late Wednesday as to when the plant would resume operations.
“We’re hoping to get back up tomorrow,” said Pittman.
He said of the 10 people who were transported to the hospital, two remained at the hospital for observation.
Pittman said he incident occurred about 11 a.m. Tuesday morning when a hot water tank fell and knocked a valve off of a reserve ammonia tank. While Pittman said the tank did not have a large amount of ammonia in it, and some residual ammonia did leak out.
Pittman said the real problem was not the ammonia leak, but blown transformers. He said the water from the water tank blew some transformers and auxiliary power had to brought in to run the plant. Pittman said on Wednesday morning that it is still uncertain how long the plant will be on auxiliary power.
He said the plant is also not currently accepting livestock shipments while the plant is down.
“All the farms have been notified,” said Pittman.