Local News

Gas release prompted swift response at area food processing plant

DECATUR, Ind. (WOWO) – Fire crews swiftly responded to a gas release incident at a prominent food processing plant in Decatur on Monday afternoon. The incident, which occurred at the Bunge plant situated on N 2nd Street between Monmouth Road and 13th Street, led to precautionary measures and an evacuation.

Decatur police promptly issued an advisory urging residents to avoid the vicinity around the Bunge food processing plant due to a chemical release. Authorities indicated that the release resulted from an issue with the mixing of chemicals at the plant.

Fort Wayne Fire Department Deputy Chief Adam O’Connor explained that the gas release gave rise to a distinct odor resembling vinegar, concentrated in the vicinity of the plant. Notably, officials have confirmed that the released gas is not anticipated to pose any harmful effects on the local residents.

As a preventive step, the plant was evacuated as a precautionary measure. Emergency crews collaborated closely with Bunge’s personnel, including an on-call chemist, to halt the chemical reaction responsible for the release. In addition, drone technology was deployed to monitor the concentration of gas in the surrounding area.

Our news partners at 21 Alive reported that a single individual was transported to a local hospital due to minor skin irritation stemming from exposure to the released gas.

Bunge’s Decatur plant is recognized for its role in processing soybeans and manufacturing an array of products including bulk and bottled vegetable oil, shortening, lecithin, and animal feed meal, according to information from the Decatur Chamber of Commerce website.

In a subsequent update, the Decatur Fire Department officially announced that the evacuation order had been lifted shortly before 8:30 p.m. on Monday. Independent environmental tests, commissioned by Bunge, were conducted to assess the safety of the area with respect to chemical hazards. Officials confirmed that the tests yielded favorable results, affirming the area’s safety.

Furthermore, authorities extended guidance to residents who may still be concerned about residual irritants or odors. Such individuals were advised to either seek alternative shelter for the evening or consider seeking medical attention as necessary.

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