700 workers evacuated after Oakey Beef chemical spill

12th June 2017 7:42 AM
UPDATED 4:52 PM
Hundreds of workers have been evacuated from Oakey Beef Exports due to a liquid ammonia leak this morning. Hundreds of workers have been evacuated from Oakey Beef Exports due to a liquid ammonia leak this morning. Win News Toowoomba

UPDATE 4.50PM: About 700 workers were evacuated from Oakey Beef Exports about 6.30am today after a liquid ammonia leak at the facility.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services remained on scene at 4.30pm conducting atmospheric testing and ventilating the cold storage room at the major facility after the leak.

Production was stopped for about four hours as the initial leak was identified and contained to the plate freezer conveyor belt room before workers in other sections were able to return to their shifts.

Oakey Beef Exports general manager Pat Gleeson said the impact on production had been minimal, and the priority was staff safety.

"We've lost about four hours of production but that's minimal when you can get everyone out of here unscathed," Mr Gleeson told The Chronicle.

"It was contained to the plate freezer and isolated quite quickly by our guys.

"All we'll lose if the production."

Mr Gleeson said there was no risk to existing beef supplies in the cold storage because of the internal protocols and leak being quickly contained.

Queensland Ambulance paramedics were on standby at the incident most of the day along with QFES crews.

 

10.10AM: Paramedics have assessed an Oakey Beef Exports worker exposed to a potentially deadly chemical this morning.

Queensland Ambulance paramedics assessed the man who was given minor first aid after he was exposed to liquid ammonia from a leak.

A QAS spokeswoman said the worker did not require transport to hospital.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services have contained the leak and stemmed the flow at the Oakey facility.

A QFES spokeswoman said a second crew in hazmat suits was preparing to enter the abattoir.

The leak was reported to authorities about 6.30am.

7.40AM: A liquid ammonia leak has forced a mass staff evacuation at a Darling Downs abattoir this morning.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews are investigating a leak at Oakey Beef Exports on Keong Rd and Old Warrego Hwy.

The chemical leak was first reported to authorities about 6.30am.

Staff have been evacuated from the facility and QFES crews in hazmat suits are preparing to enter the abattoir in order to identify and contain the leak.

Queensland Ambulance paramedics are on standby at the incident but have not been required to treat any personnel at the scene.

A spokeswoman said paramedics would remain at the incident.