Two people are dead while scores were hospitalized after ammonia leaked yesterday from an ice plant owned by the mother of Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco.
Joselino Nazareno, 54, an electrician working at T.P. Marcelo Ice Plant and Cold Storage, and Gilbert Tiangco, 44, a long-time employee in the same company, died from the leak. At least 75 residents living near the plant had to be brought to the hospital for treatment, six of whom were children. Almost 3,000 families were evacuated from the densely-populated area.
An ammonia tank inside the plant exploded in the afternoon, and authorities had a hard time controlling the spread of the odor because of the winds buffeting the area. The situation was declared under control at about 10pm.
In an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo, Tiangco admitted that the plant was owned by his family. He learned about the leak at about 4:19pm and told the residents in the area to evacuate after.
“First I would disclose.. that is owned by a corporation, and my mother is one of the owners. They inherited that from my grandfather,” the mayor said.
“They found it hard to breathe…when they were near the area. The first thing they had to do was evacuate the residents to make sure they are safe,” he added.
He said that he had ordered the facility to be closed and vowed that justice would be served despite the fact that the plant is owned by his mother.
“Because it is owned by my mother, I would like to apologize for what occurred. While the company is owned by my relatives, I will ensure that there will be someone who will be held accountable [for the leak],” the mayor said.
Liquid ammonia is used as a refrigerant in ice plants. Exposure to it can leave a burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat. This may lead to blindness, lung damage, and even death.
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This article, Ammonia leak from ice plant owned by Navotas mayor’s family kills 2, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.