Stavis Seafoods ammonia leak kills one worker, four others escape

Published on
March 24, 2016

A Stavis Seafoods employee died Wednesday, 23 March following an ammonia leak at the company’s cold storage warehouse in Boston, according to media reports.

The worker, an adult male, was found on the second floor of the facility near a stairwell, according to the Boston Globe. First responders attempted to reach the worker but were pushed back due to fumes. He was eventually found by rescue personnel several hours after the leak was reported to authorities, around 6 p.m., and only after crews donned hazardous materials suits.

“We were devastated to learn that one of our warehouse employees has died as a result of the ammonia leak at a Stavis Seafoods warehouse,” a statement issued by Stavis Seafoods chief executive Richard Stavis said. “We are thankful that four employees who were in the building at the time were able to quickly and safely evacuate.”

Stavis Seafoods is not releasing information about the worker until his family is notified, the statement said. Four other workers who were in the building were able to evacuate, according to CBS Boston.

Officials do not know how the leak started, the television station reported.

According to the Globe, emergency personnel had trouble accessing the building because of the overwhelming smell, Walsh said. Firefighters in hazmat suits reached the main valve and shut off the flow of ammonia “shortly after 9:20 p.m.,” the newspaper reported.

Boston police closed parts of Summer and D streets, near where the warehouse is located, and motorists and pedestrians were rerouted away from the area, the Boston Fire Department said on Twitter.

On 8 March, at Seafood Expo North America in Boston, Stavis Seafoods announced it would move all of its operations, including its freezer and cooler operations, processing and offices, into a 90,000-square-foot space in the Massport Marine Terminal.

In its announcement, the company said it would move its warehousing from the 7 Channel Street facility – the location involved in the 23 March accident – into the new marine terminal headquarters, which "will utilize the latest in construction technologies and be the most technologically advanced, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly seafood processing facility in Massachusetts."

Construction was set to start later in 2016 and the company's move will take place beginning in September of 2018. Plans for the new facility include a newly installed Cascade Refrigeration System, which is a hybrid CO2/Ammonia refrigeration plant.

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