Ammonia leak that closed I-90 caused by faulty refrigeration system

SPOKANE, Wash. --- Fire officials confirmed Thursday an ammonia leak from a commercial refrigeration system forced officials to temporarily close Interstate 90 on Wednesday night.

The leak shut down parts of the freeway for a few hours after an ammonia cloud was spotted near Geiger.

Officials said this was the second chemical leak at Johanna Beverage in the last week. A leak on Saturday sent one person to the hospital and forced the building to evacuate.

Officials from Fire District 10 said the first leak on Saturday released between 700 to 1000 lbs. of anhydrous ammonia. The second leak on Wednesday released between 300 and 600 lbs. of the chemical.

Fire officials said in a release that both leaks were due to malfunctioning equipment contained in the refrigeration room at the plant. They said the Wednesday release happened as repair technicians were beginning to start the refrigeration unit backup after making repairs related to the Saturday leak.

The company and Fire District 10 said they are working  together on prevention measures. Joanna Beverage reportedly is installing a temporary, non-ammonia refrigeration unit while repairs are being made to the existing system.



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