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Nitrogen Leak Leaves Six Workers Dead at Georgia Poultry Processing Plant


Six people working at a Gainesville, Georgia, poultry processing plant died tragically yesterday morning when a ruptured pipeline spewed toxic nitrogen gas throughout the facility.

The horrific accident also left several workers critically injured.

5 Workers Died Inside Gainesville Plant, 1 at Hospital

Firefighters responded to reports of burns at the Foundation Food Group plant, located at 2093 Industrial Drive about 55 miles outside Atlanta, around 10:12 a.m. on Thursday, January 28th.  According to Hall County fire division chief Zach Brackett, first responders encountered a “large contingent of employees that had evacuated, along with multiple victims that were in that crowd that were also experiencing medical emergencies around the facility” once they arrived at the scene.

Sadly, five workers were found dead inside the plant, while a sixth died after being taken to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.

So far, authorities have not named any of the victims, but officials in Mexico have confirmed that two of those killed were Mexican nationals.

5 Workers Among 8 People Being Treated for Respiratory Problems.

Eight people were treated at the hospital for respiratory problems, including three plant workers listed in critical condition. Five workers and two firefighters were in fair condition.

“Preliminary indications are that a nitrogen line ruptured inside the facility,” Nicholas Ancrum, the vice president for human resources at the Foundation Food Group, said at a news conference yesterday afternoon. “Those lost today include maintenance, supervisory, and management team members. Every team member is equally important to us, and our hearts go out to their families and communities who have suffered such a devastating loss.”

According to The New York Times, poultry plants use liquid nitrogen to chill or freeze chicken after it has been gutted and processed. But when it evaporates, the resulting vapor can quickly fill a large space and replace the oxygen needed to sustain life. For that reason, pressurized liquid nitrogen lines must be checked routinely for leaks.

One union official suggested the non-unionized plant might have been cutting corners.

“Had simple safety protocols been followed today, workers’ lives wouldn’t have been on the line,” Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents 15,000+ poultry workers across the United States, told the Times. “The egregious lack of standards at nonunion facilities like the one in Gainesville cost essential workers their lives today.”

Georgia Poultry Plant Has History of Workplace Safety Violations

The Gainesville, Georgia poultry processing plant had been operated by Prime Pak Foods before being taken over by the Foundation Food Group earlier this month.

In 2015, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration fined the facility more than $100,000 in connection with a dozen workplace safety violations. The plan was assessed another $40,000 in penalties for additional violations in 2016.

The following year, two employees were forced to undergo amputations after their hands became stuck in a food mixer. The plant was fined $3,750 in 2019.

According to The New York Times, Georgia is home to more poultry processing plants than any other state. Nationwide, the industry is known for poor working conditions, low wages, and a relatively high rate of severe injury.

Undefeated Plant Accident Lawyers: Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consult

Our Undefeated Plant Accident Lawyers are monitoring developments related to the fatal nitrogen leak at the Foundation Food Group plant in Gainesville, Georgia, and will post an update when new information becomes available.

In addition to being undefeated, our Experienced Plant Accident Attorneys have won billions for thousands of workers and families across the United States following the worst industrial disasters in recent history and consistently recover Record-Breaking Verdicts and Settlements on our clients’ behalf.

If you or a loved one were injured or tragically killed in connection with the Georgia poultry plant accident, please call 1-888-603-3636 or  Click Here to send us a confidential email through our “Contact Form.”

We’ll answer all of your questions, fully explain your legal rights and options, and provide all of the information you need to make the best decision for yourself and your family.

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