GAINESVILLE, GA — A hazardous materials leak at a food processing plant in Gainesville on Thursday morning resulted in the deaths of several people, county officials said in a news conference.
The deadly incident at the Prime Pak Foods plant in Gainesville was determined to be a liquid nitrogen leak, authorities said.
Five people died in the plant as a result of the leak, and another person was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, officials said. Three people remain hospitalized in a critical unit, and another five people who were hospitalized are in fair condition.
Another 130 people were taken by bus to nearby Free Chapel Church for medical evaluation, one of whom was later taken to a hospital as well.
As a result of the incident, Memorial Park Drive between Bridge Road and Atlanta Highway was temporarily closed, and nearby Lyman Hall Elementary School went on a precautionary lockdown.
Around 1:30 p.m., it was announced that Memorial Park Road had reopened and the school lockdown had been lifted. The school said buses are expected to run as usual, barring any delays caused by the incident.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this incident, and we appreciate our stakeholders’ patience and understanding,” the school said on Facebook.
County officials said they will hold another press briefing at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday to share additional details. This story could be updated.
In a statement, Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp said officials from several departments are on the ground to help with local response and to investigate the incident. The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, the Office of Insurance and Fire Safety and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are on site, he said.
“Our hearts are broken hearing about the tragedy that took place at Prime Pak Foods in Gainesville this morning,” Kemp said, in part. “Marty, the girls, and I ask all Georgians to join us in praying for the families facing a terrible loss and the other employees who are receiving medical care. May God be a hand of peace, comfort, and healing in the days ahead.”
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