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Explosion at Kentucky Plant Kills Worker

April 11, 2003

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ An explosion ripped through a food additive plant Friday, killing a worker and spewing a cloud of ammonia over parts of Louisville.

Residents near the D.D. Williamson & Co. plant were asked to stay inside their homes after the explosion at 2 a.m. shook windows more than three miles away. It took six hours for 40,000 pounds of ammonia to leak out of a ruptured tank.

Five workers were inside at the time of the explosion. Four escaped uninjured, but the fifth was killed. His identity was not released.

The victim had noticed the leaking tank and was walking toward the area at the time of the blast, Fire Capt. Ronel Brown said.

The plant makes caramel coloring for food products and drinks. The ammonia was used as a refrigerant, said R.N. Bartlett, spokesman for Jefferson County Emergency Management.

Ammonia inhaled at high doses can be fatal, but the levels released after the explosion were not dangerous, he said.

A woman who answered the phone at another D.D. Williamson facility in Louisville declined comment.

Safety inspectors have visited the plant six times since 1985, resulting in four ``serious″ citations.

In November 1999, inspectors levied three citations against the plant for not having proper fall equipment to protect employees working at an elevation more than 10 feet in the air. The plant was also cited in 1994 for not having proper employee emergency eyewash facilities.


On the Net:

D.D. Williamson & Co.: http://www.ddwilliamson.com

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