POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Emergency crews were called to a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Polk County Wednesday morning where a 20,000-pound ammonia tank sprung a leak.
Officials with the City of Auburndale told News Channel 8 that County hazmat crews arrived at the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. plant located at 705 Main Street South in Auburndale around 10:15 a.m. where contractors were doing maintenance.
In the process, authorities said 20,000 pounds of ammonia was released, with some of the vapors escaping to the surrounding neighborhood. Following a nearly three-hour effort, the leak was stopped.
Officials said all the liquid was contained inside the bottling plant.
A shelter-in-place order was issued for residents and businesses in a roughly two-block area surrounding the plant.
“I knew something was up in the air, something was wrong,” said Jim Fuentes, an Auburndale resident.
Fuentes lives next to the plant and shared what he smelled after stepping outside.
“It was kind of like wells when you smell that egg type smell, gassy,” Fuentes said.
No injuries were reported inside the plant, however, there were reports of injuries offsite. Auburndale Fire Department Deputy Chief David Cash said those who complained of smell irritation offsite refused medical treatment.
In a statement to 8 On Your Side, The Coca-Cola Company said, “Our first priority is always the safety of our people and nearby residents. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries to anyone at the facility or the nearby neighborhoods, and the leak was contained as quickly as possible. A few electrical employees working nearby did seek medical attention for minor eye and throat irritations.
“We apologize to the workers and area residents for the inconvenience this may have caused them, and we greatly appreciate the quick and effective response from the city and county emergency services teams.”