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Chemical Spill Injures 5 Workers at Tyson Foods Plant in Northwest Arkansas


Five workers were hospitalized on Tuesday, following a chemical spill at a Tyson Foods plant in northwest Arkansas.

Breathing Problems, Burns Reported After Tyson Foods Chemical Spill

The June 18th accident occurred around 8:30 a.m., at the Tyson Foods poultry processing plant located at 600 Berry Street in Springdale. According to media reports, employees began complaining of skin burns and breathing problems shortly after some type of cleaning chemical spilled outside the building.

Paramedics subsequently transferred five Tyson Foods workers to Northwest Medical Center-Springdale, including one employee who sustained critical injuries. Another worker was listed in serious condition, and three were listed as fair.

Tyson Plant Accident Treated as Hazmat Situation

The Springdale Fire Department treated the Tyson Foods chemical spill as a hazmat situation. Fortunately, they were able to quickly contain the cleaning agent and establish a decontamination line for affected employees and responders.

So far, Tyson hasn’t identified the specific agent involved in the accident. But according to Fire Capt. Matt Bagley, the Berry Street plant was not using ammonia.

A spokesperson with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) did confirm that a team of investigators from the Little Rock office would be heading to Springdale. Although Tyson Foods has launched its own investigation, the company indicated that it would cooperate with OSHA.

Tyson Foods Chemical Spill Latest in String of Serious Accidents

Headquartered in Springdale, Tyson Foods is the second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork in the world. The company’s Berry Street poultry plant employs around 1,200 people.

In June 2011, a chlorine gas leak at that facility sent 150 workers to the hospital, after an employee mistakenly poured sodium hypochlorite into a 55-gallon drum containing an acidic solution. At least 60 people remained hospitalized for several days, including five treated in the ICU.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control later concluded that the employee’s limited English skills contributed to the accident, something Tyson Foods disputes. OSHA also fined the facility $7,000 in connection with the incident, after finding that some workers were unable to understand the plant’s labeling system.

Around 400 people were forced to evacuate the same Tyson Foods plant due to an ammonia leak in February 2012, including 10 who were taken to the hospital for evaluation.

In December 2014, a similar incident resulted in the hospitalization of 23 workers at Tyson’s Chick-N-Quick plant in Rogers, Arkansas.

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