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Ammonia leak hospitalizes 18 Kansas workers

An ammonia leak at a Kansas nitrogen fertilizer plant next to an oil refinery sent 18 refinery workers to a hospital, and two remained hospitalized Tuesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An ammonia leak at a nitrogen fertilizer plant next to an oil refinery sent 18 refinery workers to a hospital, and two remained hospitalized Tuesday.

The anhydrous ammonia leak Monday afternoon affected 47 workers from the refinery, and the 18 were admitted to a hospital for observation for potential respiratory problems, officials said. Ammonia can cause swelling of the air passages.

By Tuesday afternoon, two workers were in the acute care unit for observation and were expected to stay overnight, hospital spokeswoman Susan Correll said.

The leak, caused by a failed pump, did not affect the public and did not require evacuations, said Steve Eames, a spokesman for Coffeyville Resources, which operates both the refinery and the fertilizer plant.

Because anhydrous ammonia is not a regulated pollutant, there won’t be a state investigation, said Joe Blubaugh, a state health and environment department spokesman.

The oil refinery is where thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled into floodwaters last month. The spill coated houses and lawns in a slimy, smelly goo and led to a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court against Coffeyville Resources.