Swansea residents meet with company involved in ammonia leak

The cloud from the leak was so strong that it killed 38-year-old Jacqueline Patrice Ginyard of Wagener as she drove through it.
The cloud from the leak was so strong that it killed 38-year-old Jacqueline Patrice Ginyard of Wagener as she drove through it.

SWANSEA, SC (WIS) - Thursday evening the Department of Health and Environmental Control hosted a meeting about the ammonia leak that killed one person in Swansea last month.

"When did you know that this was an emergency?" asked one woman.

"Is this gonna happen again, before you get these things in place?" asked a man.

They were just two of many tough questions asked by dozens of Swansea neighbors. It was the town's first opportunity to question a representative from Tanner Industries since the July 15 ammonia leak that killed a woman driving by the company's Swansea plant.

"This is the first time I've seen anybody from Tanner," said a man in the audience.

DHEC says a hose inside Tanner Industries ruptured, releasing 10,000 pounds of ammonia into the air.

The plume of ammonia killed Jacqueline Ginyard, who was driving to work on Highway 321. Ginyard's family was at Thursday night's meeting and asked Tanner's spokesman for apology.

"That was my baby's mother, and this is my daughter, I haven't heard an apology about what happened," said a family member.

"We regret that it happened and our condolences to the families that have been impacted by this," said Tanner spokesman David Binder.

Binder says additional safety measures have been implemented at the plant, and he says the community is safe. But those comments provided little comfort to a shaken community.

"Why wasn't something already in place to prevent this?" asked one woman.

"I'm very concerned because I don't want that to happen to more people," said Catherine McKnight of Swansea, who lives directly across from the plant.

McKnight says she's been nervous in her home every day since the accident. She hopes her neighbors will continue to put pressure on Tanner to ensure the deadly event doesn't harm anyone else.

"If it happens one time, it will happen again," said McKnight. "But we don't want anymore lives to be lost."

The number one question people raised in the meeting was why Tanner Industries didn't sound an alarm to warn people in the area there was a deadly leak.

Tanner's spokesperson said they'll consider putting in an alarm after the National Transportation and Safety Board completes their investigation of the accident.

DHEC says that investigation could take another six monhts.

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