Fire and EMS on the scene of an ammonia spill off Overland Drive near Cayce
Cayce, SC (Paul Kirby) Sat Aug 11, 10:31 a.m. – At approximately 10:10 a.m. Saturday, approximately 30 gallons of industrial ammonia had been reported spilled on the roof of a business at 167 Overland Drive off Old Dunbar between South Congaree and Cayce. Industrial ammonia is often used in the large refrigeration systems of the food storage and the food processing industry. Small quantities can be extremely deadly if inhaled in concentrated amounts.
According to the official website of the US government’s OSHA agency, www.osha.gov, ammonia is considered a high health hazard because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and lungs. Exposure to 300 parts per million (ppm) is immediately dangerous to life and health. Ammonia is also flammable at concentrations of approximately 15% to 28% by volume in air. When mixed with lubricating oils, its flammable concentration range is increased. It can explode if released in an enclosed space with a source of ignition present, or if a vessel containing anhydrous ammonia is exposed to fire. Fortunately, ammonia has a low odor threshold (20 ppm), so most people will seek relief at much lower concentrations.
The further you are away from the spill, the safer you are. Most spills are only very dangerous to people who are in very close proximity to the spill or leak. As you get further away, the ammonia mixes with air making it less concentrated and therefore safer.
Currently, as personnel from Lexington County access this situation, anyone who is currently off site of the plant where the spill occurred might best be served by sheltering in place and await instructions. Expect that roads in the area could be closed if necessary and detour accordingly. Do not go that way for any reason until the situation is sorted out. The experts from the fire service and perhaps DHEC will advise further and we will immediately convey that information to you via social media and our app that can be gotten FREE in either app store. Continue to follow The Lexington Ledger for updates.