What initially was reported as a tragic explosion is now more specifically described as a catastrophic Prime Pak Foods industrial accident. Multiple people are reported dead, many others have been injured – some seriously so. A number of state and federal investigatory and regulatory agencies have been called to the scene of the Prime Pak Foods industrial accident in Gainesville, Georgia as of Thursday evening. These include the Georgia Fire Marshal and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is also involved in the growing investigation into what did and did not happen at the Gainesville poultry processing plant.
Earlier in the day, some individuals transported to area medical centers were reported to have suffered serious burns. Reports about individuals being treated for burns remain at this time. However, as of Thursday night, the emerging issue appears to be the fact that workers in the plant were killed and seriously injured when a liquid nitrogen line ruptured at the facility. There is still confusion surrounding how the rupture occurred.
When liquid nitrogen is released into the air, it immediately vaporizes and becomes a deadly, odorless gas. The gas can rapidly displace all breathable air in an enclosed space, which appears to be what happened at the Prime Pak Foods plant. As of Thursday evening, it appears the deaths at the processing plant were the result of workers suffocating at the facility due to complete oxygen deprivation.
In addition to unanswered questions about how the rupture occurred that resulted in the rapid release of deadly nitrogen gas, the number of fatalities is not absolutely certain as of the end of the day on Thursday. Early reports from inside the facility were that five people died at the scene and one additional worker died some time later after being transferred to a hospital. By Thursday night, there were media reports attributed to Prime Pak Foods and its parent company, Foundation Food Group, that 16 people had been killed in the tragic industrial accident.
About a dozen other victims of the Prime Pak Foods industrial accident have been hospitalized. Some of these individuals are reported to be in critical condition. A couple firefighters were also admitted to the hospital, but they were in less serious condition. Indeed, one firefighter has been released from the hospital as of Thursday evening.
A HAZMAT team was called to the site when it became clear that a hazardous substance had been released into the air inside the Prime Pak Foods and Foundation Food Group food processing plant. The HAZMAT team ultimately did give an all-clear at the facility when the nitrogen leak was contained and oxygen in the plant replenished.
At the time of the incident, students at nearby Lyman Elementary School were directed to shelter in place after what faculty members reported was the sound of an explosion from the Prime Pak Foods plant. No one at the school was reported injured and students eventually were released to their homes.
Firefighters remained at the scene until just before sunset. They reported at that time that there was no fire at the facility and that the plant was safe for reentry. There evidently is no significant structural damage to the Gainesville poultry processing plant. With that said, Prime Pak Foods and Foundation Food Group have not announced when the facility will return for operation. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued a statement in which he asked “all Georgians to join us in praying for the families facing a terrible loss and the other employees who are receiving medical care. May God be a hand of peace, comfort, and healing in the days ahead.”
If you’ve been injured in the Prime Pak Foods industrial accident, or if you’ve lost a loved one in this horrific incident, the legal team at The Doan Law Firm is available to answer any questions you may have. You can connect with an industrial accident lawyer from our firm by calling (678) 855-0000 any time of the day or night.
We can schedule a consultation with a dedicated, caring, experienced Georgia industrial accident lawyer at our firm’s offices in Georgia, at your home, at the hospital, or any location that is convenient for you. We can also schedule an immediate online consultation with you. There is no charge for an initial consultation with a Doan Law Firm Georgia industrial accident lawyer.
We also make an attorney fee guarantee to you. Our firm never charges a fee unless we win for you.