An ammonia leak killed a worker at Stavis Seafoods Warehouse in the Seaport District in south Boston. Emergency responders were unable to reach the man, who was found inside a stairwell in the cold storage facility, because of the strong fumes.
The leak was reported near the end of a work shift, around 6 p.m. Wednesday, when employees began noticing a strong odor and saw a leak coming from the plant. According to the Boston Globe, workers smelled ammonia and pushed the emergency switch to shut the valve, but a ruptured pipe meant ammonia continue to be released. The victim was identified as Brian Caron.
Official said the source of the leak was a 5,400-pound tank, but it wasn’t known how much ammonia escaped before the main valve was shut off. A hazmat team wearing protective suits stopped the leak within hours.
Stavis Seafoods was cited by OSHA in 2009 for 15 serious violations, including those related to the company’s PSM program for ammonia. At the time, the cold storage facility used less than 10,000 lb of ammonia and was not subject to the PSM regulations. OSHA ultimately withdrew the nine ammonia-related citations.