Tuesday 29 November 2016

Evacuations after ammonia spill in Corcoran, California.

Part of the city of Corcoran in King County, California, was evacuated for about five hours after a tanker spilled around 11 000 litres of anhydrous ammonia on Monday 28 November 2016. The spill occurred after the vehicle overturned in a road-traffic accident, though the cause of this initial incident is unclear. About 120 people were evacuated from buildings close to the accident, due to the extremely toxic nature of the chemical.

Clouds of ammonia mist in Corcoran, California, on 28 November 2016. ABC30.

Ammonia is used in a wide variety of industries, but usually in a diluted form. Anhydrous ammonia (ammonia without any water) is both toxic and corrosive, though injuries from ammonia are rare even in incidents such as this where large volumes are spilled, as ammonia has a strong and extremely unpleasant smell that people tend to retreat from rapidly (to the extent that people are more often injured trying to escape the smell than directly by the ammonia.

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