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Worker killed after ammonia leak at Massachusetts food plant


(NORWOOD, Mass.) — One person is dead and another injured due to an ammonia leak at a commercial building in Norwood, Massachusetts, police officials said on Monday.

Norwood’s police and fire departments responded to a 911 call after 11 a.m. local time on Monday over an ammonia leak at a food processing facility.

Norfolk County’s District Attorney’s office, alongside state police detectives, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and the Fire Marshal’s Hazardous Materials Team, are investigating the incident.

According to the Norwood Police Department, two men working for an outside contractor were near the leak, leading to the incident.

The district attorney’s office identified Richard J. Arguin, 68, of Dighton, as the deceased.

First responders provided aid to the other man and sent him to Massachusetts General Hospital for further treatment.

Ammonia is a chemical that is used in several industries, such as agriculture, manufacturing and food processing.

Ammonia can irritate and burn the skin, mouth, throat, lungs and eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High exposure to the chemical can cause death.

According to a 2021 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 69% of air emission deaths of agricultural workers were due to ammonia.

In Massachusetts, the district attorney investigates all unattended deaths, including industrial accidents, the DA’s office told ABC News.

“The information that we have is that this is an incredibly dangerous situation for the fire, Haz-Mat and police personnel responding,” Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said in a press release. “We will be proceeding with this investigation as quickly as safety allows.”

The district attorney’s office said that the death seemed accidental and surveillance video showed no foul play, but an investigation is ongoing.

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