Ammonia leak contained within Buck Ice & Coal; not a hazard to the community

Ammonia leak contained within Buck Ice & Coal; not a hazard to the community

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Officials said the ammonia leak at Buck Ice and Coal Co. in Columbus is contained within the building and is not a health hazard to any of the surrounding community.

Crews have been on site since Saturday, working to tackle the issue of an anhydrous ammonia leak in the company on Talbotton Road.

“We’re working as a team to make sure we handle this in a safe manner,” said Columbus Fire Marshal Ricky Shores.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anhydrous ammonia is a pungent gas with suffocating fumes. In this case, the ammonia is used in the refrigeration system to make the ice at Buck Ice and Coal.

Exposure to it can cause breathing difficulty, irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat, burns, or blisters. In high concentrations, it can lead to death.

Many in the area are concerned about the leak.

“My concern is, the kids walking through the neighborhood. What about people walking to and from? Where is this leak? How will it affect us?” said Annie Grimes, a resident in the area.

“There’s a lot of concern being close to a school, in a community area," said Kenneth Arbin, who was visiting a friend in the area. said. "It really raises concerns of what could happen.”

But Shores said there’s no reason to worry.

“All the hazards are contained to the structure," he said. "We have air monitoring around the area.”

Shores said they’re taking steps to make sure the ammonia isn’t moving away from the property.

Traffic is still closed in the area.

“If they still have it blocked off, there’s still a leak," Grimes said.

A specialty crew will be there Monday making sure the problem is taken care of. Shores said it could be another day before the facility is back up an running.

There were no injuries reported because of the leak.

Shores said the Department of Agriculture will have to determine if the ice or other products inside the building were affected by the leak.

(Source: Aaron Lee)

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