Firefighters contain leak of ammonia

DORAVILLE -- Firefighters from Gwinnett and DeKalb counties helped contain an ammonia leak at a Doraville refrigeration facility Monday night.

Gwinnett County firefighters and the department's Hazmat team responded to Nordic Cold Storage on the 4300 block of Pleasantdale Road at about 8:15 p.m., finding the business already evacuated, spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said.

Calling in DeKalb County's Hazmat crew as backup at the scene near the Gwinnett-DeKalb line, firefighters donned special suits and carried monitors as they entered the building to find the leak coming from a "pump packing valve," Rutledge said.

Employees at the 24-hour operation were already outside the business when emergency personnel arrived. They worked with a crew from Nordic Cold Storage in order to locate the leak, Rutledge said.

"Firefighters from the Hazmat team said that the safety systems in place seemed to have functioned as designed in isolating the leak," Rutledge said.

Anhydrous ammonia is often used as a refrigerant in large-area cold storage facilities, Rutledge said.

"It is a high irritant to skin and the respiratory system," Rutledge said. "It can be very hazardous if you're exposed to it or breathe it in, but, again, it was isolated to the building itself in a particular area."

The leak was under control by about 10 p.m.