MOORHEAD, MINN. - June 18, 2008 - Shortly before noon on Wednesday, June 18, 2008, a chemical spill incident occurred at American Crystal Sugar Company's Hillsboro, ND, factory.
A vendor operating an SO2 (sulfur dioxide) truck was in the process of off loading the chemical from a storage tank into the truck when an apparent hose failure allowed escape of the gas to atmosphere. The driver was suited in appropriate protection gear and took action to isolate the truck while the factory isolated the line into the tank to minimize the spill.
Emergency personnel were contacted immediately and the factory initiated an evacuation from the affected areas. However, there were American Crystal employees and contractor employees who were exposed to the dangerous gas. Emergency crews were on the scene administering oxygen and making assessments. The company's best knowledge is that 21 individuals have been sent to area medical facilities for care and observation. The majority of these individuals were contractors doing work at the factory.
It appears the chemical spill has been contained and authorities are conducting an inspection before letting employees regain entrance to the factory. Approximately 225 people were working at the time of the incident including 150 American Crystal employees and 75 contractor employees.
American Crystal's early investigation indicates that appropriate actions and responses were taken to limit and contain this incident.
American Crystal puts the utmost value on the safety of its employees and contract personnel. Its biggest concern is for the well being of the individuals affected by this unfortunate accident. American Crystal plans to conduct a thorough investigation of this incident.
American Crystal Sugar Company is an agricultural cooperative owned by nearly 2,900 shareholder entities in the Red River Valley (Northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota) involved in the growing and processing of sugarbeets. American Crystal employs about 1,700 full and part time employees and is the largest beet sugar producer in the United States. American Crystal operates sugar factories at Crookston, East Grand Forks, and Moorhead, Minn., Drayton and Hillsboro, N.D.; and Sidney, Mont., under the name Sidney Sugars Incorporated. American Crystal's corporate headquarters and technical services facilities are located in Moorhead.