(Adds company comments, hogs at plant, details on workers)
June 18 (Reuters) - Smithfield Foods Inc’s Tar Heel, North Carolina pork packing plant, the world’s largest, will stay closed until Friday after a water tank collapsed and caused an ammonia leak on Tuesday, the company said.
The ruptured tank also knocked out the plant’s electrical transformers, said company spokesman Dennis Pittman.
“The situation is electrical. We were hoping to get the transformers back in and rewired but it is taking a lot longer than we expected,” Pittman said on Wednesday.
Live hogs that were at the plant at the time of the accident, which happened mid-shift on Tuesday, were still there. Feed and water have been brought in for them, Pittman said.
The plant does not have full electrical power or hot water and is operating off generators. The facility cannot be cleaned until hot water is available, which is expected to be on Thursday, he said.
After nearly 2,400 workers were evacuated on Tuesday, about 10 workers were taken to a hospital. Two workers remained hospitalized and were expected to be kept overnight for additional observation, Pittman said.
The Tar Heel plant, which has a daily slaughter capacity of about 34,000 hogs, is due to resume operations on Friday and has added a Saturday shift to make up for lost production due to the accident.
Hogs scheduled for slaughter at the Tar Heel plant were either held back at farms or diverted to Smithfield plants in Clinton, North Carolina, and Smithfield, Virginia, Pittman said.
Some pork was damaged after the accident due to loss of power, Pittman said, without providing details.
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 Toni Reinhold)