TYLER - UPDATE: The Brookshire Grocery Company released a statement Saturday morning regarding the September 2017 ammonia leak.
Please know that the safety of our employees, customers and communities has always been and always will be of upmost importance to Brookshire Grocery Company. Despite the extensive preventative processes and procedures we had in place to ensure the safety of an ammonia refrigeration system, a rare type of valve failure occurred at approximately 6 a.m. on Sept. 1, resulting in an ammonia leak. This is the first incident of this nature our Company has experienced in our almost 90 years of operation. Our emergency action plan was implemented immediately by our designated employees to minimize the impact and to ensure everyone’s safety. The Company provided immediate medical attention for individuals with expressed concerns about potential exposure. We reported the incident to the appropriate authorities and cooperated with OHSA throughout its investigation. Our Company has revised our emergency action plan and implemented voluntary improvements including upgrading our alarm system and installing state-of-the-art software to monitor, manage and, if needed, deactivate the system immediately in the event of a leak. We contested the initial, Dec. 5, OSHA citations and provided evidence that, on Friday, Jan. 5, resulted in the removal, revision and reduction of those citations. This included a 47 percent reduction in the amount we were to pay. Brookshire Grocery Company will continue in our commitment to providing a safe environment for our employees and customers and to serving our communities.
The National Occupational Safety and Health Administration released its report on the ammonia leak that happened at the Brookshire Grocery Company warehouse in Tyler on September 2017.
The incident happened on Sept. 1, prompting an evacuation and sending some employees to the hospital for treatment. The leak, a break in the piping on the roof of a cold storage building, was quickly found and contained.
Sixteen people were injured, but none were life-threatening. Ten were treated and released at the scene and six more were taken to local hospitals for evaluation and released.
OSHA started its investigation on the same day and released its findings on Dec. 5. The report listed eight serious violations from the leak, including maintenance, safeguards, and operational features for exit routes; process of safety management of highly hazardous chemicals; and hazardous waste operations and emergency response.
The Tyler based company was fined a total of $63,736.
BGC closed its popular World of Wildlife Museum on Sept. 11 in reaction to the leak and it remains shuttered. Although OSHA has given the all-clear to reopen, the company stated it plans extensive proactive measures to make sure the building is safe.
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