Ammonia Leak in Teutololis IL near Effingham on US 40. Area evacuated

I worked for a company that manufactured ammonia. It is very soluble in water. We were told fumes from leaks can usually be controlled by spraying with a fire hose. When exposed to fumes, covering the face with a wet towel provides a measure of protection.

I’m surprised that first responders seem to lack this info. Sad.

Some are suggesting green ammonia as a fuel substitute for hydrogen. Its a derivative that liquifies under pressue making it easy to transport. Toxicity and leaks are potential concerns. Emegency responders need to learn to deal with leaks.


Ammonia leaks are not uncommon in farming country. I would be surprised if the first responders did not have protocols to follow for dealing with it.

It sounds like it was the sudden release of the quantity of ammonia that caused the situation to become so dangerous.

Why would you think that? What evidence is there that they didn’t know how to deal with ammonia?

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They evacuated a wide area. The whole town. Water spray takes ammonia out of the air and traps it in water.

Yes, rather than a leaking value or fitting, the most common situation, the tank truck overturned and released ammonia. Was tank punctured? Or otherwise damaged? So far no details. Large quantity involved.

Apparently draining tank into another was difficult or delayed.

As in East Pallestine, for flammable liquids the usual response is let the fuel burn off. There they even punctured tank cars for fear they might explode. Can’t do that with ammonia.

You can name quite a few other hazardous materials that require different responses. As you point out, ammonia is common as a fertilizer. You would think people would know.

Let’s get some facts straight. The evacuation area was an approximately 1 mile radius from the crash site and involved about 500 people. The population of Teutopolis is around 1600 people, so it wasn’t the whole town. More like 1/3 of it.

It also appears the ammonia started leaking more or less immediately as a result of the crash. That means there is going to be some significant amount of ammonia on the ground and in the air before first responders can arrive on scene. (Ultimately, several thousand gallons leaked from the tank before the leak could be stopped.)

So how do you propose to spray sufficient water over a wide enough area reliably enough to make it safe? And do so quickly enough to avoid an evacuation?

Seems to me its far safer for the general public to get them out of the area first, especially because the tank was leaking before any response could be mounted at all.



Thanks for the additional details. Peter.

All I’m saying is water spray can reduce the amount going into the air and that is preferable to letting is all evaporate.

No. You claimed the first responders didn’t know what they were doing. Quick refresher:

So are you backing off that claim? You think maybe first responders might actually know what they’re doing with hazardous materials? And that just perhaps they evacuated a wide area because the ammonia had already evaporated into the air before they arrived and was forming a toxic plume that is hazardous to health. And the best immediate response to that is to evacuate an area, not try to douse the evaporating ammonia with water. And that getting the ammonia wet isn’t going to do anything to the toxic plume?

Accusations of incompetence are serious things. If you now think you were wrong in your claim, be a man and admit it. And the fact that you didn’t take the time to learn about the situation before making your claims speaks volumes.