VIDEO : Vineland Residents Warned to Leave Home During Pump-Out

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VINELAND – The Vineland Fire Department is warning residents near the South Jersey Ice and Cold Storage to leave the premises during work hours for the next few days, as they pump out the facility of ammonia.
The South Jersey Ice and Cold Storage, located on the 500 block of East Pear Street, has been in operation since 1922. For years they stored frozen ice, fish, and other items. When a possible chemical leak was discovered, the EPA, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the City of Vineland took action.
“Currently, EPA is prepared to arrange for the removal of the anhydrous ammonia from the refrigeration system, at which point, the public threat will essentially be eliminated," said Dwayne Harrington.
As part of phase one, a chemical scrubber system was installed, which is designed to remove the ammonia from the air in the event of an accidental release. A 24/7 chemical monitoring and detecting system was installed to monitor the air quality around the area, and have detected gas near the facility on more than one occasion leading to concerns about the protection of residents living nearby.
“So if anything should come out of those vents, it’s going to be contained in the scrubber," said Harrington.
At first, occupants of five homes near the facility were temporarily relocated when the scrubber was installed. Starting tomorrow, a pump truck will be connecting to the interior system and will attempt to withdraw the ammonia.
“We’ve also taken the protective action of relocating seven residences immediately adjacent to the facility until we have this response action completed, as a precaution," said Harrington.
As part of phase two, the Vineland Fire Department is going around the neighborhood and informing residents to leave the premises between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., tomorrow and Thursday, as they begin the pump out.
“I would say it did not happen quickly, it took a long time to reach this point," said Harrington.
Harrington estimates there is about 5,000 pounds of ammonia in the building and while the EPA was not involved in the ongoing inspections of the facility, now that they’re on top of it, most of the chemical will be extracted within the next few days, and the nearby residents can move back home and breathe a little easier.