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Liquid nitrogen leak kills two at US food processing plant

03 December 2020

Two workers at a food processing plant in Vernon, Los Angeles died on December 2 after a liquid nitrogen leak. Authorities said that the employees were found unconscious and not breathing in a cold room at the plant belonging to Golden West Food Group.

Representative image - Image: Wikimedia/User: Tony Hisgett
Representative image - Image: Wikimedia/User: Tony Hisgett

The man and woman were found by firefighters and were rushed to hospital where they were pronounced dead, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said. The employees’ identities won’t be confirmed until the country coroner has investigated and conducted an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

No other workers at the Golden West Food Group plant reported any health issues or required medical treatment. Food manufacturer and distributor Golden West Food Group said the two workers were overcome by escaped gas in an isolated room at the processing plant.

Hazmat teams attended the scene to investigate on December 2 and remained there until December 3. Local news site Whittier Daily News reports that the Hazmat teams were unable to determine the source of the liquid nitrogen and did not detect abnormal levels of liquid nitrogen in the area where the two employees were found.
Liquid nitrogen is often used at food processing plants to refrigerate cold rooms. Exposure to large amounts of the gas can be lethal, especially in enclosed spaces.

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health also attended the scene. The investigation to find the exact cause of the leak continues.

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