Ammonia leak in Shanghai kills 15: Local government

Ammonia leak in Shanghai kills 15: Local government

SHANGAI - Agence France-Presse
Ammonia leak in Shanghai kills 15: Local government

Rescuers in chemical protection suits walk outside a refrigeration unit of Shanghai Weng's Cold Storage Industrial Co. Ltd., in the Baoshan district of Shanghai Aug. 31. REUTERS photo

A liquid ammonia leak from a refrigeration unit at a food company in China's commercial hub of Shanghai killed 15 people on Aug. 31, the local government said.

The leak also sickened at least 26 others, who had been sent to hospital, with six in critical condition, the Shanghai government said in a statement.

The incident occurred shortly before midday on Aug. 31 in the city's northern district of Baoshan at a cold storage unit owned by a seafood company, media reports said.

Photos on the website of the Xinmin Evening News, a local newspaper, showed fire trucks at the scene with hoses on the ground.

The government did not say whether the company's workers or people living in the urban area nearby were affected.

Liquid ammonia used in refrigeration can cause destruction of lung tissue, potentially resulting in death, and chemical burns on the skin, according to th U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The company, Shanghai Weng Pai Cold Storage Industrial Co., is engaged in the import and export, storage, processing and sales of aquatic products.

It has the capacity to freeze 150 tonnes of products a day, according to its website.

Shanghai is considered to be more tightly regulated than other cities in China, but this marks the second accident at a food company in the city in less than a month.

On Aug. 20, five workers at a Shanghai food company died after inhaling poisonous fumes while cleaning a vat used for making pickled vegetables, the government said.