Ammonia leak at TNT Crust injures six, 3 taken to hospital

TNT Crust in Green Bay.
TNT Crust in Green Bay.(WBAY)
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 10:17 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Three people were taken to a hospital during an ammonia leak at a business in Green Bay.

At about 1:15 a.m., the Green Bay Metro Fire Department was called to TNT Crust at 508 Elizabeth Street. Crews found a “substantial leak” in the ammonia coolant system, according to the department.

Employees were evacuated. The fire department says if the employees stayed in the building just a little longer, this incident could have turned deadly.

“My understanding is that the evacuation was completed and everyone was accounted for when crews arrived, then they began to ask how many people are ill and need to be assessed. So in addition to hazmat, this was really close to being a mass casualty,” Capt. David Siegel, a science officer with the GBMFD hazmat team, said.

Six of the 16 employees inside at the time of the leak needed treatment for respiratory chemical burns -- three were taken to emergency departments, the other three were treated and cleared at the scene. We don’t know the conditions of the people taken to hospitals.

The scent of ammonia is recognizable. “It’s painful,” Siegel said. “It’s irritating with household cleaner. You smell it and if you get too close, you pull back. Well imagine if it’s massively more concentrated.”

Treatment depends on the level of exposure to the toxic gas and the person’s reaction to it.

“Basically, what it does is, it burns the lungs. That’s how they have to be treated, as to support lung function with medications, oxygen, and maybe even intubation,” Siegel explained.

The Brown County Hazardous Materials Team responded to help with the investigation and air quality monitoring.

The leak was contained and the building was ventilated. The scene was handed back to TNT Crust for repairs.

The Green Bay Metro Fire Department received help from Green Bay Police, the Department of Public Works, and Brown County Hazmat.

TNT Crust produces pizza crust for regional frozen pizza manufacturers, chains, and food service distributors.