published Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Ammonia leak at BASF Corp. plant snarls traffic on Amnicola Highway

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    Workers are seen at the BASF facility on Amnicola Highway on Tuesday morning after traffic was reopened following an anhydrous ammonia leak that caused major traffic issues. The leak reportedly occurred shortly before 5 a.m. The Chattanooga Fire Department responded with several fire companies and the hazmat team. As a precaution, the area around BASF was evacuated, and Chattanooga police blocked Amnicola Highway at Chattanooga State on one end and at Wisdom Street on the other end.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
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Traffic on Amnicola Highway should be back to normal this morning after a fire Tuesday caused an ammonia leak that closed the highway for several hours.

No injuries were reported, but Amnicola was slowed to a crawl during Tuesday morning's rush hour.

A little after 4:30 a.m., the Chattanooga Fire Department and its hazardous materials team were called out after a fire started at an ammonia pump in the BASF Corp. plant at 3805 Amnicola Highway, said fire department spokesman Bruce Garner.

The plant's fire protection system put the flames out, but workers detected an ammonia leak in the system, so they called 911, according to Danny Hague, the department's tactical services chief.

Hazardous materials workers and BASF's response team shut off the leak about 8 a.m. and declared the air safe to breathe, Garner said.

As a precaution, nonessential BASF staff were evacuated and authorities closed Amnicola at Highway 153, all DuPont Parkway exits and other local roads. The opening of Chattanooga State Community College was delayed.

BASF officials declined to comment.

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