5 treated after ammonia leak at Ziegenfelder's
WHEELING, W.Va. - Five workers were treated for exposure and the downtown Wheeling area was on alert after an ammonia leak at Ziegenfelder Frozen Treat Company on Wednesday afternoon.
The multi-million dollar company makes popsicles and uses ammonia for its refrigeration system. Representatives say the problem has been contained, but still workers remain evacuated and nearby Wheeling Central Catholic cancelled school activities for Wednesday night.
Ziegenfelders, which sits on 18th Street, also remains closed. Four workers were taken to the hospital and another was treated on scene. Neighbors along 17th and 18th streets were told to stay inside and workers were evacuated from the building just after 2 p.m.
A white cloud could be seen in downtown Wheeling, and many thought the factory was on fire, but instead it was from the ammonia vapor and wet weather mixing together.
Representatives with Ziegenfelders, the company that makes the popular budget pops you see in stores, say employees took the proper safety procedures and moved into positions they have been trained to go to.
President and CEO Lisa Allen released a statement around 4 p.m.: "Safety is one of our No. 1 concerns, and that is what comes first the ammonia release has been contained and our buildings remain closed. Once we can safely enter the facility and have more conclusive information, we will let you know."
"With a lot of help from the maintenance crew, everything was shut down and everyone that was exposed was treated or taken for evaluation and everyone seems to be OK," Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms said. "No one seriously injured."
The pungent smell of ammonia could be picked up for several blocks in downtown Wheeling, stinging the eyes and making it tough to breathe the air near 18th Street. Officials say the odor is a good thing because it's a self-alarming quality