At least six people were killed Thursday by a liquid nitrogen leak at a plant in Georgia. First responders who arrived at the Prime-Pak Foods plant in Gainesville after a report that people had suffered burns found many employees had evacuated. Several of them were "experiencing medical emergencies," a fire official said. Five people died at the plant, NBC reports, and one at a hospital. At least nine people were hospitalized, per CNN, including four firefighters who had trouble breathing. Three patients were in critical condition. A bus took about 130 workers to a church to be checked for injuries.
"It was a leak of unknown cause that has occurred in the system here," the Hall County fire official said. A Prime-Pak Foods executive said it appears that a nitrogen line broke, per the Washington Post. The leak has since been contained. Such plants often use liquid nitrogren in their refrigeration systems, per ABC. Liquid nitrogen that leaks vaporizes into an odorless gas that can push breathable air out of a room. OSHA is among the agencies investigating at the plant. The food-processing plant is about 60 miles northeast of Atlanta in the heart of the state's poultry industry, with thousands of people working for various companies. (President Trump ordered meat processing plants to stay open during the pandemic.)