Quick Response to Ammonia Leak in Abbotsford

Fire Units Had Role-Played Scenario

On Monday evening, April 23, an ammonia leak was reported at Abbyland Foods in Abbotsford, WI. Abbotsford-Colby Police Department and Marathon County Sheriff’s Office alerted the community through social media that there had been a chemical spill at Abbyland Foods located at 502 E Linden Street, Abbotsford.

Chief of Colby-Abbotsford Police Department Jason Bauer said, “The leak was determined to be at the main processing plant with a release of ammonia into the air. Firefighters and plant operations personnel were able to close the intake valve of the ammonia to stop additional spread of the hazardous material. MABAS Box was called to the 2nd alarm level.”

The fire department took charge of the leak, while the police department went door to door alerting residents within one mile to evacuate. The police department also alerted media outlets Channel 9 and Channel 7 of the evacuation and shared the information on its Facebook page.

The leak was contained in twenty-one minutes, and by 8:28 the department gave an additional update that the leak was contained. “They isolated the leak in my opinion fairly quickly, and twenty minutes later we stopped the evacuation process and switched modes to making sure everyone’s okay, and going door to door through the affected area,” said Bauer.

A total of 18 patients including 1 firefighter were treated and transported for respiratory distress. Bauer credits the quick isolation of the leak to prompt response.

“Getting the necessary resources on scene as quickly as possible played a huge factor and eliminated any confusion on who should be responding to the incident,” he said. “Central Fire works with Abbyland Foods on a regular basis to train and prepare for such incidents.”

Marathon County dispatch had run through the pre-planned scenario of an anhydrous leak with fire units. “That was basically taken care of before,” said Bauer. “As we were responding to the scene, we didn’t have to ask for instruction from each department.”

Abbyland was helpful and cooperative through the process. “One of the workers from Abbyland was right at incident command. He was a wealth of information,” said Bauer.

Abbyland responded to the incident: “There was a situation yesterday with an ammonia leak. The situation was addressed and corrected promptly. We have many measures in place to detect and prevent leaks. We also provide training to our employees. We reacted quickly to the situation and worked with local law enforcement and HAZMAT teams to keep everyone safe and notified.”

“All employees on site followed evacuation protocol as they have been trained to do. We are very proud of our team, the community and the surrounding communities at their quick response and support. Employee and community safety and well-being is of utmost concern to Abbyland Foods. We would like to send a big thank you out to all the Emergency Responders and anyone who helped with the situation.”

Central Fire would like to thank the following for assisting with the response to Abbotsford Monday evening:

Owen-Withee-Curtiss Fire and EMS,
Spencer Fire and EMS Marshfield Fire
Edgar Fire and EMS
Taylor County EMS
Medford Fire
Wausau Fire
Stratford Fire
SAFER EMS
Athens EMS
Aspirus MedEvac
Marathon County Emergency Management
Clark County Emergency Management
Colby-Abby Police Department
Clark County Sheriff’s Department
Marathon County Sheriff’s Department
Salvation Army
Wisconsin DNR

News Desk
Author: News Desk