Ammonia leak cleared at beverage distribution plant
A beverage distribution plant on Detroit's east side reported a chemical leak Monday morning on the 20000 block of Exeter.
Fire Department Lt. Clarence Watts said the building was closed and 15 employees were sent home as investigators looked for the cause of the leak.
Watts said the building houses a company that distributes Towne Club beverages, and has dry goods and liquids stored on the premises.
He said the Fire Department received a call from the company’s employees about the leak at about 9:15 a.m. Monday.
Fire officials said the level of danger wasn’t enough to warrant evacuating the surrounding neighborhood.
Fire crews had to wait to enter the plant because hazmat crews had to determine whether it was safe.
The leak may have been caused by a leaky or broken pipe, said Dave Fornell, deputy commissioner of the department.
It's considered a level two hazmat situation, which according to the National Fire Protection Association, is "an incident involving hazardous materials that is beyond the capabilities of the first-responders on the scene and could be beyond the capabilities of the public-sector responders having jurisdiction," which "can pose immediate and long-term risk to the environment and public health."
Two police officers and a worker were treated at Detroit Receiving Hospital after being exposed, Fornell said. Their conditions were not available Monday night.
At one point, officers asked a TV news helicopter to fly over a certain part of the building so they could watch the livestream and get a better view of the roof.
The facility is operated by Intrastate Distributors. No one at the company could immediately be reached for comment Monday evening.
Sonya Lofton said she heard a TV news helicopter flying over the area and came to the area.
Lofton said she has seen trucks frequently arriving and leaving at the soda factory. She said she didn’t hear any explosions or smell any unusual odors and was surprised to learn about the chemical leak.
“Nothing like this has ever happened in the neighborhood before,” she said.