Smithfield's Tar Heel pork plant stays closed after ammonia leak

June 18 Wed Jun 18, 2014 10:58am EDT

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June 18 (Reuters) - Smithfield Foods Inc.'s Tar Heel, North Carolina pork packing plant, the world's largest, remained closed on Wednesday after a water tank collapsed and caused an ammonia leak a day earlier, the company said.

"It is a matter of getting power restored, a big part of the problem is that the water tank that ruptured actually knocked out our transformers," said Dennis Pittman, a company spokesman.

It is likely the Tar Heel plant, which has a daily slaughter capacity of about 34,000 hogs, could resume operations by the second shift on Thursday, he said.

"There is extensive electrical work that has to be done outside of the plant but that will not effect it running," he added.

There was some pork damaged after the accident due to loss of power, Pittman said, but he did not provide details on how much product was discarded. Part of the plant's refrigeration remained operational with the use of a generator.

After an evacuation, about 10 workers were transported to the hospital on Tuesday and as of Tuesday evening two were being kept under observation, Pittman said.

Smithfield Foods, Inc., the world's largest pork producer and processor, is a wholly independent subsidiary of China's WH Group.

(Reporting By Meredith Davis; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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