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Shelter-in-place order lifted following chemical spill at Auburndale Coca-Cola plant

The leak from the 20,000-pound ammonia container has been capped.

AUBURNDALE, Fla. — A Coca-Cola plant was evacuated after a chemical leak that happened Wednesday morning in Auburndale.

According to the city's spokesperson, there was an ammonia leak from a 20,000-pound container on the plant grounds. The leak has since been capped. It took the Auburndale Fire Department roughly three hours to stop the leak.

"[The] plant had some work that was going on inside the plant by contractors," Deputy Fire Chief David Cash explained. "They followed all the rules and did everything right. There was a problem inside the piping and that caused a release of the chemical."

While there have been no injuries, all employees were evacuated to the perimeter of the building.

There was also a shelter-in-place order issued for residents living two blocks east of the plant. Cash said there were some residents who called and complained of the odor and irritation caused by the leak. Crews were sent out to check on those residents, who all turned down medical treatment. 

When there is an ammonia leak, Cash explained it's a complicated approach to stop the leak and start clean-up.

"It comes out as a liquid then it evaporates into vapor," he said. "We had both issues going on. Vapor went up and outside the plant, a small amount of it. The liquid was contained, and we mixed water with it. You can spray water on it and that minimizes it and that was all contained inside the plant and inside their filtration system so none of that escaped off the scene."

A statement from The Coca-Cola Company reads as follows:

"Our first priority is always the safety of our people and nearby residents. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries to anyone at the facility or the nearby neighborhoods, and the leak was contained as quickly as possible. A few electrical employees working nearby did seek medical attention for minor eye and throat irritations.

"We apologize to the workers and area residents for the inconvenience this may have caused them, and we greatly appreciate the quick and effective response from the city and county emergency services teams."

Polk County Fire Rescue is assisting in clean up.

Editor's note: The leak was ammonia, not chlorine like the city of Auburndale's spokesperson originally reported. The article has been updated.

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