But when it evaporates, the resulting nitrogen gas can fill a very large space and rapidly displace the air and oxygen needed for life, which can lead to an imminent danger, Rick L. Denheiser is a professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Due to its low temperature, liquid nitrogen can also cause cryogenic burns on contact, he said.
Union officials said that in poultry and meat plants, seals on pressurized liquid nitrogen lines should be regularly checked for leaks.
If it turns out that the plant was cutting corners to save costs, the company should be sued, said Mark Loritsen, director of food processing, packing and manufacturing at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which produces about 250,000 meat and Represents poultry. staff.
“It should never, ever,” see how dangerous the chemical is, Mr. Loritsen said.
The nitrogen leak was one of several fatal industrial accidents in recent years.
In April 2010, an explosion through a Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 people, one of the worst offshore oil spills in the United States. In May 2020, 11 people died in India and hundreds became ill, including a tank in which a liquid used to make plastic, was leaked, officials said.
Other recent industrial accidents have driven thousands of people out of their homes.
In November 2019, 30,000 people were evacuated to southeast Texas after a blast at a Texas Petroleum Chemical plant. And in 2017, 21 emergency workers in Texas were treated for a fire at Hurricane Harvey’s Arkema chemical plant after exposure to the storm.
The fatal accident on Thursday morning, at least one employee, was silence for 60-year-old Maria Bonilla.
Ms. Bonilla, a Salvadoran immigrant who does not speak English, was working in the marinating department of the sprawling plant. He did not hear an explosion, or an accident or scream.