On Monday, August 6, an anhydrous ammonia leak at a nitrogen fertilizer plant next to an oil refinery sent 18 of the refinery’s employees to the hospital. Two of the refinery workers remained in the hospital on Tuesday. The leak affected 47 of the workers, but only 18 were thought to have potential respiratory problems.
Ammonia is a colorless gas that has a strong and distinctive odor. Exposure to ammonia can cause burning of the nose, mouth, and thoat and can cause headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and a muted sense of smell. Long-term exposure can cause pulmonary edema and bronchitis.
The leak was caused by a failed pump and did not affect the public. Also, there will not be an investigation into the leak because anhydrous ammonia is not a regulated pollutant.
The oil refinery is where thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled into floodwaters last month. The spill coated houses and lawns in a slimy, smelly goo and led to a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court against Coffeyville Resources.
For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Workplace Injuries and Discrimination.