(Repeats; adds comments from company)
By Meredith Davis
June 17 Smithfield Foods Inc. closed
its Tar Heel, North Carolina, pork packing plant, the world's
largest, on Tuesday after a water tank collasped and caused an
ammonia leak, the company said.
It did not say when the plant would resume operations,
noting only that Tueday's shifts were canceled.
At least three people were injured and transported to Cape
Fear Hospital in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a Bladen County
firefighter told Reuters by telephone.
"Earlier today, a large water tank collapsed at our Tar Heel
facility, disrupting power systems and causing an ammonia
release. The release was minor and is now contained," Kathleen
Kirkham, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Several rural fire departments responded to the incident,
the Bladen County firefighter said.
The company said later emergency crews had left the facility
and company officials were evaluating the site.
All employees at the packing plant were evacuated and sent
home, but roads around the plant have been reopened.
The plant has a daily slaughter capacity of about 34,000
hogs. Smithfield Foods, Inc., the world's largest pork producer
and processor, is a wholly independent subsidiary of China's WH
Word of the plant evacuation had little or no effect on
Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures, according to
CME hog futures for June delivery ended up 0.675
cent per lb to 124.925 cents. August ended down 0.225
cent per lb to 128.050 cents.
(Reporting by Meredith Davis; Additional reporting by Theopolis
Waters; Editing by Dan Grebler)