Gregory worker seriously burned

alt

Coweta County Fire Department personnel in regular gear meet Haz Mat team members at a door of Gregory Packaging used to enter the hazardous area to retrieve a ladder used to reach a shut-off valve.

By ELIZABETH RICHARDSON erichardson@newnan.com Authorities say an employee of Gregory Packaging Inc. -- on Amlajack Boulevard in Shenandoah Industrial Park -- was seriously injured Tuesday evening in a chemical leak involving anhydrous ammonia. Emergency responders report the unidentified victim suffered burns to his upper body and possibly to his respiratory tract as he inhaled ammonia fumes. He was transported by helicopter ambulance to the Augusta Burn Center for treatment. His condition was unknown Wednesday afternoon, according to Coweta Assistant Fire Chief Todd Moore.
The Coweta County Fire Department's hazardous materials unit remained on scene for nearly 24 hours until conditions inside the factory returned to normal. The incident occurred at 5 p.m. Tuesday at 71 Amlajack Blvd. Fire crews arrived on scene to learn that the plant was experiencing an active ammonia leak and that a victim remained inside the building. "They put themselves in harm's way to go in and bring that guy out as quickly as possible," said Moore. "They weighed the risk versus gain." Firefighters carried the victim out of the building to an emergency decontamination station. After the chemical was removed, he was turned over to Coweta Emergency Medical Service for transport. He was first taken to Piedmont Newnan Hospital by ground ambulance before being transported to Augusta. Moore said Wednesday that the victim was in "very serious condition" when firefighters turned him over to medical personnel. He was scheduled to undergo emergency surgery Wednesday, according to the assistant fire chief. Three employees were exposed to the ammonia leak. Two of those employees were evaluated on the scene by EMS and then released without injury, according to Moore. Members of the fire department's Special Operations Personnel were called to the scene to mitigate the leak. They entered the facility wearing special encapsulating suits. The crew found the active liquid leak about 20 feet off the ground in an 80-foot by 200-foot cooler. They observed that, as the liquid ammonia hit the ground, it was turning into vapor. Crews used specialty, non-sparking tools to fix the leak in the valves. Fire crews worked with Rhino Services, a local clean-up company, to introduce carbon dioxide and dry ice to the leak, which "neutralizes the anhydraous ammonia turning it into a non-hazardous, inert powder," according to Moore. The hazardous materials crew remained at the facility -- monitored by the state Environmental Protection Division -- until a little after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday when air conditions in and around the building were within the normal range. "This response was truly a team effort," said Moore. "The Coweta County Sheriff's Office and Coweta EMS were instrumental in the success of this operation along with Cargill Meat Solutions, who sent its chemical expert to the scene. The employees and subcontractors of Gregory Packaging were a big help. "Our crews are to be commended for the heroic rescue of the downed employee," Moore continued. "Without their quick action, his survival would have been questionable at best."

More Local

Hamburger too costly for angry patron

Some people can get pretty upset when they have to pay extra for lettuce and tomatoes on a $1 hamburger. A woman now faces multiple charges ... Read More


Armed robbery suspect thwarted

A man suspected of attempting to rob a convenience store was arrested Wednesday after people inside the store were able to disarm and hold h ... Read More


Smith Street Update

Second shooting suspect arrested

A second suspect in the early November shooting in Newnan, which left one woman seriously injured, has been arrested by authorities with the ... Read More


Schools asking for input on proposed calendars

The Coweta County School System (CCSS) is soliciting input from parents about its proposed calendars for the next two upcoming school years. ... Read More


Church assisting victims of Senoia house fire

After a home in Senoia was severely damaged by a fire on Monday, the Senoia United Methodist Church is hoping to gather supplies and necessi ... Read More

Fund honors dog from stabbing incident

The Clara Fund will help spay and neuter pit bulls in Coweta and surrounding areas. The HELP Spay and Neuter Clinic, which is affiliated wit ... Read More