Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | May 14, 2009

Kentucky environmental lawyer Sanders says two workers are dead as a result of an ammonia release at American Cold Storage in Louisville, KY.

Several state and local emergency response agencies investigated an anhydrous ammonia leak about 4:30 p.m. at American Cold Storage, 607 Industry Road, Louisville, Kentucky.  This facility is a bulk refrigeration storage plant for food products.

According to the Louisville Fire Department, about a dozen employees had evacuated the building before firefighters arrived.  Once on the scene, two workers had to be removed by firefighters wearing hazmat suits. The workers later died from their exposure to the ammonia.

American Cold Storage was formed in 1981 with the purchase of Louisville Freezer in Louisville, KY. In 1987 this facility was expanded to 4.8 million cubic feet.  Refrigerant grade anhydrous ammonia is a clear, colorless liquid or gas, free from visible impurities. It is at least 99.95 percent pure ammonia.

Ammonia is considered a high health hazard because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and lungs. Exposure to 300 ppm is immediately dangerous to life and health. Still, ammonia refrigeration systems are used quite frequently in facilities that provide industrial refrigeration.

The danger is caused by leaks of the ammonia into the atmosphere near workers.  Look for U.S. EPA to fine this company over the leak, as well as legal action taken by the workers’ families over this tragedy.


  1. I was just curious about what caused this incident at A.C.S., Louisville. Our company has anhydrous ammonia on site for our Frozen Meal business. I am a part of the HazMat team on site and am trying to gather more information about whether we have the proper PPE on site for our hazmat team as well as the employees that work in these cold, ammonia cooled areas, or not. Thanks!

    • At this point in time, the investigation is still ongoing on this tragic loss of two lives. We will continue to follow this story and report the findings of the investigation.

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