An ammonia leak at a food processing plant in Streamwood, IL, sent seven people to the hospital, fire officials said.
The leak occurred at 11:30 p.m. Monday night at Fresh Express in the 1100 block of East Lake Street. When firefighters arrived, building employees said the leak was coming from the refrigeration system and several workers were complaining of having difficulty breathing.
The emergency call then elevated to a hazardous material incident, which brought additional firefighters and technicians from other fire departments, with large fans used to remove the fumes from the structure.
Five employees were taken to St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates for treatment. Two firefighters exposed to vapors also ended up transported to the hospital and later released, officials said.
Streamwood Fire Chief Chris Clark said firefighters remained at the scene Tuesday morning ventilating the building and trying to contain the leaking chemical, which he said was anhydrous ammonia used as a refrigerant.
No one outside the facility had been in harm’s way from the incident as crews were able to dissipate the leak through the building, said Streamwood Fire Battalion Chief Joe Ratzek.
The company had contracted with a HazMat cleanup company to clean out the building, Ratzek said, and the work was ongoing Tuesday. No one would be let into the building until after their work was complete, Ratzek said.
The factory processes foods, including packaged salads and vegetables, officials said.