At Least 6 Dead, Others Taken to Hospital After Chemical Leak in Georgia: Officials

January 28, 2021 Updated: January 28, 2021

Officials in Georgia said at least six people died and about a dozen people were hospitalized following a chemical leak at a food processing plant on Thursday.

A liquid nitrogen leak occurred at the Prime Pak Foods facility at 10 a.m. local time in Hall County, officials told WSB-TV. They said an “explosion” may have occurred.

Other reports, including one from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said five people died and 10 people were injured.

The Hall County Emergency Management Department issued a shelter-in-place order for the Lyman Hall Elementary School over the leak.

“This step was taken out of an abundance of caution. The leak is contained and not airborne. Memorial Park Highway is temporarily closed while law enforcement and emergency management officials resolve the situation. Please do not attempt to pick up your child as traffic may delay their efforts. All students are indoors and safe. We will notify parents once the shelter in place has been lifted,” said the Hall County School District.

The Gainesville Police Department wrote on Twitter that the entire roadway around Memorial Park Drive will be shut down over a “HAZMAT situation.”

Officials added to WSB-TV that three Gainesville firefighters and one firefighter from Hall County were hospitalized. About 130 other people were taken to a nearby church for evaluation.

Prime Pak Foods merged into Foundation Food Group, a company that takes raw chicken and processes it into products like chicken fingers and individual chicken cuts for restaurants and food service operations. The company’s CEO did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Gainesville is the center of Georgia’s poultry industry, which is the nation’s largest, with thousands of employees working for multiple processing plants.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.