Kelly McKnight, who works across the street from the Swift plant in Butchertown, knew something was wrong when he walked out his building’s front door and saw a bunch of people in white coats milling about. So he altered his plan to go out and went back to his office. But the water he got once inside “tasted metallic” and a c0-worker said his eyes were burning. He later felt he was getting a headache.
At 11:30, he said, firefighters came inside and forced everyone out. The ammonia leak at the Swift Packing Plant had caused officials to warn everyone in the area to stay inside. Every media outlet was issuing alerts. Someone was seen being taken out on a stretcher. It wasn’t until after 2 that it was announced the leak had been stopped.
No one in the immediate area could really get accurate information on what was going on. Another person who was nearby said it took a while before the sirens went off, sparking an immediate evacuation of area businesses as haz-mat workers made their presence known. A thousand workers at the plant were evacuated.
After a tense few hours, at 2:30, residents were given an all-clear, though Story Avenue remained closed.
Yes, this does sound familiar. Yesterday’s Rubbertown explosion tested the city’s communications abilities, and residents were not pleased at the information provided by the city, though fortunately they were never in danger. For now, it sounds like the ammonia leak at the Swift plant wasn’t a threat to residents, though how much of a danger they were under remains to be seen.
And tonight, provided the just-issued tornado watch doesn’t dominate newscasts, we’ll get to compare and contrast the reaction of Butchertown residents with those of folks in Rubbertown.