Hazmat crews respond to ammonia leak at empty St. Petersburg warehouse

ST. PETERSBURG — Hazardous materials crews responded Thursday to an ammonia leak at an empty seafood warehouse that resulted in no injuries.

The incident began about 1:30 p.m. as firefighters with St. Petersburg Fire Rescue were doing a routine hazardous materials inspection at 333 16th Ave. S, said Lt. Joel Granata, a department spokesman. The building houses a processing facility for Key West Fresh and Frozen Seafood.

When they got there, the door was open and there was a strong odor of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical that can cause breathing difficulties, Granata said. Hazardous materials firefighters began searching the building. They found a 14-gallon ammonia tank with about 5 gallons left in it and what appeared to be a small leak at the valve, Granata said. A total of 27 hazmat technicians from St. Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas Park, Palm Harbor and Seminole were involved.

The leak was limited to the building, and though several streets were closed, surrounding buildings were not evacuated.

A representative for Key West Fresh told fire officials that the company has not been in the building for two months.

In October 2008, firefighters closed numerous streets around the building and told people to stay in their homes after a 9 mph wind propelled an ammonia cloud coming from the business. A broken valve on an ammonia tank was blamed, and no one was hurt.

Hazmat crews respond to ammonia leak at empty St. Petersburg warehouse 10/28/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 29, 2010 12:15am]

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