Storm May Have Caused Tank To Malfunction - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

09/28/05 - Lufkin

Storm May Have Caused Tank To Malfunction

by Ramonica R. Jones

Many storm evacuees now living in East Texas have been away from home for weeks, but a group of folks that evacuated Wednesday were only displaced for a couple hours.

They were ordered to leave home after built up pressure caused a cooling system at Land O' Pines on Abney Street to overheat.

Lufkin fire chief, Pete Prewitt, said, "One of the pop-off valves in an ammonia tank broke off, flooded the area with ammonia. We had to evacuate to the north, northeast, and northwest for an area of about three blocks."

Firefighters, HazMat crews, and police helped close off the ammonia leak, cool the system down, and transfer the ammonia out of the malfunctioning tank and into a larger holding tank - something they needed to quickly, but safely.

"Ammonia, in industrial concentrations, is deadly," said Prewitt. "We had a leak here that is bad enough, but minor by some standards. It could be very deadly."

Gloria Brooks works in Lufkin, but she commutes to and from her home in Jasper everyday. It's only been a few days since Rita hit her home town. Brooks didn't expect to evacuate again so soon.

"We're without electricity; no water, no phone system, so I came to work [Wednesday] morning and had to evacuate from my job," said Brooks. "I'm running from one storm into another storm."

Luckily, this storm was only temporary and much easier to recover from.

Industrial strength ammonia is harmful if it gets on your skin. It is also highly flammable and poisonous if inhaled.

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