UPDATE 5: Ammonia leak discovered after small fire
(WRCB) – An anhydrous ammonia leak on Amnicola Highway shut down the highway for nearly three hours Tuesday.
According to the Chattanooga Fire Department, the leak occurred at the BASF Corporation on Amnicola Highway.
Bruce Garner with the Chattanooga Fire Department says the incident began around 4:30 a.m. at an anhydrous ammonia pump in the facility. After the fire was extinguished, BASF discovered the leak and called 911.
"Technicians with the fire department's haz-mat team suited up in their encapsulated suits -- along with members of BASF's own response team -- and together they worked to locate and stop the leak. By 8:00 a.m., the haz-mat team confirmed that the leak had been shut off and the air in the surrounding area was safe to breathe," Garner says.
As a precaution, the area around the facility evacuated, including along Amnicola Highway and Highway 153.
Several businesses on Amnicola Highway were closed for several hours, and Chattanooga State was closed until 9:00 a.m.
Chattanooga Fire says BASF personnel are conducting their own investigation on what caused the fire and leak at the plant.
Anhydrous Ammonia is a colorless gas with a sharp, suffocating odor. It can cause burning of the eyes, nose and throat if even a small amount is inhaled.