(New throughout, adds comment from fire chief, Cargill)
Jan 10 Cargill Inc. and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture are trying to determine if some meat
products were contaminated by an ammonia leak that closed the
company's Ottumwa, Iowa, pork packing plant on Friday, a company
Two workers were hospitalized and an undisclosed number of
other employees were evacuated during the overnight shift after
an ammonia leak was detected at 2 a.m. CST (0800 GMT).
Ottumwa Fire Chief Tony Miller said the spill was contained
to the roof of the plant and his team left the scene about 12:20
pm CST (1820 GMT) on Friday.
An ammonia pipe was damaged, but no other equipment was
damaged by the leak, Cargill spokesperson Michael Martin told
Reuters in an e-mail. Ammonia is used in the refrigeration
systems of meat processing plants.
USDA officials were unavailable for comment.
The pork processing plant closed early on Friday after the
leak was detected and will remain shut until Saturday, Martin
The plant canceled its first shift and had initially planned
to reopen for the second shift, but it was canceled later on
Friday. Two full shifts are planned for Saturday, he said.
"Cleanup is not going as quickly as they hoped it would,"
Martin said, adding that Cargill's hazardous materials response
team is handling the clean-up.
The Ottumwa plant processes 18,000 to 19,000 head of hogs
daily and employs 2,400 workers.
(Reporting by Meredith Davis; Editing by Dan Grebler)