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Homes evacuated after ammonia leaks at poultry plant

By Joe Beck

An ammonia leak at George's Chicken, 19992 Senedo Road, near Edinburg forced the evacuation of the plant and 12 nearby homes early Friday afternoon.

Emergency crews reported at about 2:45 p.m. that the leak had been stopped a little more than two hours after a 911 call came from the chicken slaughtering and processing plant.

No one was seriously injured, but Lt. Chris Tusing of the Edinburg Fire Department said a plant employee, one of six who received medical evaluations, was taken to Shenandoah Memorial Hospital for treatment of chest pain and breathing difficulty. Tusing said the employee's injury did not appear to be life threatening.

Tusing said plant employees trained in management of hazardous material management stopped the leak.

"They took care of the leak and took care of everything inside the building," Tusing said.

The leak also forced the closing of Va. 42 and its intersections at Grover Road and Racetrack Road.

Tusing said around 4 p.m. he expected fire and rescue crews from his department, Woodstock, Conicville and Shenandoah County would be leaving the scene in about an hour. A hazardous materials specialist from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management was also on the scene.

"The leak has stopped," Tusing said. "Right now, we're just working on cleaning up the plant."

Tusing said all but one of the evacuated residents had been allowed to return to their homes. A home across the street from the plant remained under an evacuation notice as ammonia lingered in the air on the Senedo Road side of the plant.

"We're still getting a reading of ammonia on that side," Tusing said. "We expect the problem to be resolved in the next hour."

Tusing he had no information on the cause of the leak or its exact location in the plant. He said plant employees were beginning to return to their work inside the building.

The plant uses ammonia as part of the refrigeration process. Ammonia leaks carry the risk of asphyxiation and can cause fires.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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