A criminal charge has been filed against a Georgia transportation company for a 2009 chemical leak that killed a Lexington County woman.
Werner Transportation Services Inc., of Gainesville, Ga., has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Columbia for allegedly violating the federal Clean Air Act. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the company could be fined up to $500,000 for allowing deadly chemicals to leak into the air at an ammonia plant near Swansea in July 2009.
Prosecutors say the company negligently released anhydrous ammonia. An investigation found the leak occurred after a hose blew out while ammonia was being transferred between the Tanner Industries Inc. plant outside Swansea and a Werner tanker truck. State regulators say the wrong type of hose was used to make the transfer, causing about 7,000 pounds of poisonous ammonia to leak.
Jacqueline Ginyard died after driving through a toxic cloud of ammonia in front of the plant. The fumes sent at least seven other people to the hospital.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control later fined Tanner $91,000 for several failures in the company’s emergency preparedness plans. Tanner was also fined more than $23,000 by the state Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation for workplace safety violations.