Production resumes at Springfield Dole plant following chemical leak

Employees of the Springfield Dole plant have returned after a chemical leak on Wednesday lead to a minor injury.

The plant, located at 600 Benjamin Drive, was immediately evacuated Wednesday morning after the accidental release of liquid ammonia in the facility.

A statement from the company said an electrical contractor inadvertently struck a valve inside the facility’s compressor room during a lighting installation.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the contractor was transported to the hospital but since has been released. No other injuries have been reported,” the statement said.

Springfield Fire Rescue Division with hazmat crews were dispatched to the location following reports of the chemical leak. Springfield Fire Battalion Chief Jeremy Linn said that the leak was controlled in about two hours.

“With any hazmat it is not a very fast approach. There are very measured steps that we take,” Fire Battalion Chief Linn said.

The Environmental Protection Agency was also contacted following the incident, representatives of Dole stated.

All of the plant’s employees were evacuated from the building and were gathered in the parking lot following the chemical leak.

“Employee safety is always top priority at Dole,” the statement from the company said.

Representatives of Dole said that all employees that were working at the time had been accounted for and no other injuries have since been reported as of Thursday afternoon.

Dole did not provide the News-Sun with the number of people working at the time of the incident.

Representatives of Dole said on Wednesday that “no production will proceed until we and safety authorities are confident all hazards have been removed and it is safe for our employees to resume processing operations.”

“Communications and training will be provided to all employees upon return to the facility,” the statement added.

All access to the building was halted until the company could analyze the situation, complete repairs and deem it safe for employees to return, representatives of Dole added.

The Springfield plant was given clearance Thursday morning to resume processing operations, a spokesperson with Dole told the News-Sun.

The company packages and distributes salad at its Springfield processing plant. That product is found in grocery stores across the country.

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