The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is now in control of the case of the ammonia leak that killed a woman in Lexington County Wednesday morning. South Carolina officials say 38-year-old Jacqueline Patrice Ginyard of Wagener died after she drove through a toxic cloud released from Tanner Industries. Witnesses say the woman’s car stalled and she fell after getting out to run away.
Officials held a press briefing in Columbia last night. Assistant Investigator Bob Trainor says the gas was released from a hole in a line being used to transfer the liquid from a truck to a tank. He says ammonia gas is deadly because it’s a highly alkaline chemical which can immediately damage the inside of the lungs.
“It’s similar to acidic action on the lungs except it’s an alkaline material. It does tremendous damage to the respiratory track including the lungs,” says Trainor.
The toxic white cloud also sent five plant workers and two others to hospitals.
NTSB Investigator Crystal Thomas explains what her agency does. “We come on scene, conduct interviews when necessary. We collect physical evidence and other documentation we may need. An investigation can take up to approximately one year.”
The plant and approximately 20 homes in the area were evacuated at the time. Tanner began operations again Thursday. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is also investigating the leak.
Some local residents say they’re now concerned about possible danger to their families.