On May 13, 2009, the American Cold Storage facility at 607 Industry Road in Louisville, KY experienced a failure of their refrigeration system that used anhydrous ammonia as the refrigerant. Two personnel conducting maintenance work, unrelated to the incident, perished due to the exposure to the ammonia gas. The Louisville Fire Department responded and performed rescue and recovery operations and air monitoring. The victims were recovered, but the release still remained unsecured.
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The facility reported the incident to the NRC on May 14, 2009 (0928). Upon notice by the NRC, Phone Duty Officer dispatched Louisville Outpost OSC Smith to assess the situation. Louisville FD and Louisville Metro Health Department are conducting perimeter air monitoring for ammonia with Area Raes and other direct reading instruments, and as of 1200 hrs. on 05/14, no detections were recorded at the facility's fenceline.
Due to the difficulty of securing the release, American Cold Storage hired USES, an environmental contractor, on 05/14/09 to mitigate the ammonia release inside the building. This was performed by fabricating a scrubber trailer which drew contaminated air from the building and generated a pH 9 water discharge, which was routed to the sewer system. The response continued through 05/17/09, when conditions inside the building impoved to the point respiratory protection was no longer needed. EPA demobilized the scene on 05/17/09.