A woman driving her car near the facility of an ammonia distribution company was killed and several others were injured following an 1,800-gal anhydrous ammonia leak.
The Lexington County sheriff’s department and coroner’s office are investigating the death of Jacqueline Patrice Ginyard, 38, of Wagener, S.C. Detectives think Ginyard encountered a white, dense plume of ammonia near the chemical plant of Tanner Industries, Swansea, S.C., while she was driving her car north on U.S. 321 toward the city of Columbia, according to Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts. Detectives found evidence that Ginyard attempted to leave the area, but the vapors may have disabled her car. Detectives believe that while attempting to leave the area on foot, Ginyard, whose body was outside her car, was overcome by the ammonia vapor and fatally injured. Seven other individuals were taken to a local hospital for what were thought to be non-life threatening injuries.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DEHC) emergency responders and air quality experts assisted the Lexington County fire service and Lexington County sheriff’s department. According to the DEHC, the chemical leak occurred while a tanker truck unloaded anhydrous ammonia at Tanner. A transfer hose burst, releasing a cloud of ammonia gas so concentrated it left a swath of blackened vegetation in its wake as it drifted from the facility toward U.S. 321.
An investigation team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board has been deployed to the site. The CSB team will be headed by investigation supervisor Robert Hall, P.E. Board member William E. Wright will accompany the team and act as the chief spokesperson.