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Tyson processing plants accounted for nearly 60% of ammonia-related injuries reported to the EPA between 2012 and 2021, investigation finds

Tyson Foods product.A CNN investigation found that injuries related to ammonia exposure happened at Tyson plants more often than its competitors in an nine-year time period.

AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File

  • Tyson plants reported ammonia leaks and injuries at higher rates than other companies between 2012 and 2021, CNN reported. 
  • Nearly 150 workers were injured in at least 47 different ammonia leaks reported to the EPA.
  • The company told Insider it often reports incidents that don’t meet the legal standard for a leak to be reported to the EPA.

Meat processing facilities owned by Tyson Foods accounted for almost 60% of ammonia-related injuries reported to the Environmental Protection Agency between 2012 and 2021, a new report found. 

Nearly 150 workers were injured in at least 47 different ammonia leaks reported to the EPA over that time span, according to an investigation from CNN. Ammonia is an inexpensive chemical commonly used in refrigeration systems, but it can also be toxic and damage respiratory systems, skin, and eyes, CNN reported.

Tyson, one of the largest meat companies in the country, owns five of the 20 facilities that reported the most chemical-related injuries, and five of its largest competitors reported just 37 injuries total, about a quarter of the number reported by Tyson, per CNN.

A Tyson spokesperson said in a statement to Insider the company often goes “beyond the requirements” to report instances that aren’t legally required to be, and therefore it is “not accurate” to compare companies.

“We prioritize the health and safety of our team members and take proactive measures to ensure a safe workplace and prevent workplace injury,” the spokesperson said. “If a team member is injured, we have a systematic approach for the early reporting, intervention, evaluation, and treatment.”

CNN spoke to several current and former employees who experienced ammonia leaks and said they dealt with ongoing medical issues for several years after the incidents.

Some said they felt unprepared for what to do in the event of a leak, but the Tyson spokesperson said all employees “involved in the operation of ammonia refrigeration systems” go through initial training and refresher training every three years.

Tyson reported about 57% of ammonia-related injuries in the meat industry between 2012 and 2021, while only accounting for about 25% of the ammonia across the industry, according to CNN. The ammonia leak and injury data reported by CNN comes from the EPA’s Risk Management Program, and it was compiled by the Data Liberation Project, which works to make government data more accessible.

The Tyson spokesperson told Insider the company has seen a decrease in ammonia leaks since 2016, and said less than 5% of its facilities saw a leak that meets the EPA’s requirements for reporting this fiscal year. 

Read the original article on Business Insider