Ammonia Leak In Shanghai Plant Kills At Least 15, Injures 26 [UPDATE]

At least 15 people are dead following an ammonia leak at a refrigeration plant, Shanghai Weng’s Cold Storage Industrial, around 11 am today.

Via Reuters:

A liquid ammonia leak from a refrigeration unit at a cold storage facility in Shanghai on Saturday has killed 15 people and injured 26 others, local authorities said.

At least six people are in critical condition, according to local media.

Anhydrous ammonia is dangerous. Here’s how Wikipedia describes it: “Ammonium compounds should never be allowed to come in contact with bases (unless in an intended and contained reaction), as dangerous quantities of ammonia gas could be released.”

UPDATE, 9/2, 12:20 pm: “Lack of safety training” is being blamed, according to China Daily:

People who were injured in a deadly liquid-ammonia leak remained hospitalized on Sunday, as workers blamed a lack of safety training at their company for the many deaths and injuries in the accident.

…The municipal government said on Sunday that the cause of the accident was a cap that broke off the company’s liquid-ammonia pipeline system, and has ordered a safety check at all companies that use the refrigerant.

The updated injury count is 25, though they’re in stable condition.

Here’s are two accounts of what it was like to be inside the factory:

“I was processing shrimp in the workshop when we heard a ‘bang’, and the room was quickly filled with white smoke,” said Yin Yuqin, 42, who remained hospitalized at the Third People’s Hospital.

“There was so much smoke that we couldn’t see anything,” she added. “But we still did not realize the gas was poisonous. We only smelled a pungent odor.”

Another survivor, Zhang Ping, told local media that she was sleeping in the third-floor dormitory when she was awaked by the noise and tried to rush downstairs. But the discomfort from the chemical forced her back. Emergency workers later carried her out.

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