AUSTIN (KXAN) - Residents who live near a North Austin food plant were allowed back in their homes before Saturday evening.
An ammonia leak at the Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods Inc. facility at 200 Michael Angelo Way led Round Rock Police Officers to warn nearby residents to stay indoors and turn off their air conditioners.
Ammonia started leaking from the facility around 2 pm. Saturday afternoon, according to Round Rock police officials. The Round Rock Fire Department and Williamson County haz-mat teams responded, and found a large tank leaking ammonia into a containment area.
Around 9 p.m. Saturday evening Round Rock Police said they have contained the leak and that affected residents can return to their homes.
People living in the area of Praire Lane were asked to take shelter in their homes and turn off their Air Conditioning. Round Rock Police spokesperson Officer Donall Carver said people could also leave the area if they want.
People who lived near the facility were becoming impatient during the leak, wondering when they'd be able to get back to their homes.
The company has faced fines for safety violations in the past.
In 2003 a Round Rock man died at the plant while he was cleaning a meat grinder. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Michael Angelo's $140,220 for ten violations related to 34-year-old Daniel Romero-Cruz's death.
The Travis County District Attorney's office also investigated the death and in 2008 they decided the company would not face criminal charges.
Michael Angelo's did undergo additional safety reviews and they were required to provide training to all of its workers.
The family-owned company creates frozen Italian meals for grocery stores. According to its web site, it makes entrees in small batches.
Ammonia Health Concerns
Ammonia is a colorless gas that can caused irritations if someone breathes it in. Most commonly, the chemical is known to cause burning irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. In higher concentrations it can cause headaches, nausea, or even severe burns.
Individuals with asthma and emphysema are most sensitive to ammonia.
According to Round Rock city officials ammonia is used as a refrigerant in the company's manufacturing process. They said the amount of ammonia leaked is not known at present but that no injuries have been reported.
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