Public Safety & Homeland Security

Ammonia Leak Sparks Emergency Response

Chelan County, Wa.,Emergency Management issued a shelter-in-place order for a half-mile radius around the fruit packaging plant.

by Jefferson Robbins, The Wenatchee World, Wash. / June 19, 2017
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(TNS) - An ammonia leak at Cashmere’s former Tree Top plant led officials to issue a shelter-in-place order for the area for about an hour Sunday afternoon, and to briefly shut down Highway 2.

Chelan County, Wa.,Emergency Management issued the shelter order about 2:50 p.m. for a half-mile radius around the fruit packaging plant, 210 Titchenal Road, and issued the all-clear just after 4 p.m. once the leak was capped.

Washington State Patrol Trooper John Bryant said the leak issued from a 13,000-pound ammonia tank at the Tree Top plant, a former juicing facility which has not operated since the Selah-based company shut it down in 2008.

“As soon as they saw what happened, they attempted to try and vent it, and advised the residents in the area pretty quickly,” Bryant said.

The shelter-in-place order advised the closure of businesses in the half-mile zone, and for nearby residents to retreat to closed rooms with no ventilation from the outside. The shelter radius included much of Eels Road and Nahahum Canyon Road to the east, and most of downtown Cashmere as far west as the intersection of Cottage Avenue and Vine Street.

On social media, attendees at a basketball tournament at Cashmere High School said they were forced to shutter themselves in the gym.

Because the release was a hazardous-materials incident, Hihway 2 was briefly shut down under standard safety practices, with traffic rerouted around the area.

It was unknown how much ammonia was vented in the incident. No injuries were reported.

Reach Jefferson Robbins at 509-664-7123 or robbins@wenatcheeworld.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JRobbinsWW. Contact him securely by PGP key.

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