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Ammonia leak clears Caroline building
Leaking valve caused hazmat event in Caroline

Date published: 8/10/2012

BY PORTSIA SMITH

A hazardous materials team was called out to help repair a leaking ammonia tank at a Caroline County business this week.

Caroline Fire & Rescue units arrived at the Russell Stover Candy Distribution Center in Carmel Church early Wednesday afternoon after an alarm went off for the room where the anhydrous ammonia was stored.

They found ammonia levels "well above dangerous amounts," said Mike Jones, deputy fire chief of the Fredericksburg Fire Department, whose Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team was called to assist around 1 p.m.

The 115,000-square-foot building, which houses a retail store and a distribution center, was evacuated.

Anhydrous ammonia is a colorless gas with a pungent odor. It was being used as a refrigerant at the facility, Jones said.

After consulting with Caroline and state Department of Emergency Management officials, the Hazardous Materials Team began ventilating the room, and a repairman was able to isolate a leaking valve and put the system back in operation, Jones said.

The team was on the scene for about three hours. No injuries or property damage were reported.

Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419
Email: psmith@fredericksburg.com