Gas leak cause of hazmat incident

NAUGATUCK — A gas leak Sunday at a plant on Spring Street closed the street for several hours as officials dealt with the hazardous materials incident.

Deputy Fire Chief Paul Russell said firefighters responded to a fire alarm at 162 Spring St., the former YoCrunch plant, at about 1:45 p.m. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they discovered an anhydrous ammonia leak set off the alarm, he said.

Anhydrous ammonia is a colorless gas that is used as an agricultural fertilizer and industrial refrigerant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The gas is used for refrigeration at the plant, Russell said.

Russell said officials with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and a hazmat team from the Waterbury Fire Department responded to the scene. He said they found the leak and shut off a valve that led to that area of piping. The plant’s ventilation system kicked on in response to the leak, he said.

Nobody was at the plant at the time, Russell said. Emergency crews left the scene at about 5 p.m. Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 provided coverage at fire headquarters while crews were on the scene.

Culture Fresh Foods, a producer of plant-based, non-dairy spoonable and spreadable foods, recently bought the plant to make it the company’s headquarters. Work is underway to renovate and expand the plant.