A 68-year-old man died and another man was hospitalized following a serious ammonia leak Monday at a Massachusetts food plant that processes frozen meatballs and appetizers.

Police and firefighters were called to the Norwood plant around 11 a.m. Monday over reports of injuries, but ammonia levels were so high that a hazmat team had to be called in to the scene, the Norfolk District Attorney’s office said.

Richard J. Arguin, a 68-year-old HVAC contractor from Dighton, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Another man was taken to a local hospital for treatment before being transported to Massachusetts General Hosital in Boston for specialized treatment.

Officials respond to ammonia leak in Mass.
Richard J. Arguin, a 68-year-old HVAC contractor from Dighton, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The two men, both HVAC contractors, had been near an ammonia pipe that was severed while contractors were doing work at the plant, according to Home Foods Market, which runs the facility.

While the District Attorney’s investigation is still in its early stages, foul play is not suspected, the DA’s office said.

The ammonia leak was contained to the building and presented no risk to the surrounding area. About 150 people were safely evacuated from the building, according to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services.

Fire officials classified the event as a Tier 2 Hazmat incident and confirmed it had deployed crews to support the Norwood Fire Department and hazmat technicians, who arrived about 20 minutes after firefighters. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and state fire marshal were also on the scene.

emergency response teams
About 150 people were safely rescued from the food processing plant, officials said.

Home Market Foods, which is a “major speciality provider of fresh and frozen meatballs, chicken, appetizers and snacks for both retail and food service customers” said it is cooperating with the investigation.

“The Norwood Fire Department, emergency services and police quickly responded, and evacuated the site,” Home Market Foods said in a statement released Monday night. “We are thankful to them and are doing all we can to support them.”

The plant is located in a commercial business park off Route 1 in Norwood, about 22 miles south of Boston.

With Post wires.

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