About 500 employees were evacuated Wednesday due to an acid leak at Wayne Farms located on the east side of the Ross Clark Circle. Two employees were transported to a local hospital as a precaution.
Roughly 16 employees were in the area when the leak occurred, said Dothan Deputy Fire Department Chief Chris Etheredge. One employee who was taken to a local hospital had inhaled the acid product, and the other transported worker’s skin had been exposed to the product. The remaining 14 employees were monitored on the scene, and appeared to be in good health.
Wayne Farms spokesperson Frank Singleton said the incident happened when a commercial supplier delivering and handling industrial chemicals accidentally caused a chemical reaction to occur in a building adjacent to the main plant.
“The safety personnel at Wayne Farms did a great job in following safety procedures. The acid leak is contained and the equipment installed to contain the acid did exactly what it is designed to do. It contained the leak,” Etheredge said.
Most workers were able to return to their stations after about an hour.
The incident is still under investigation by the Dothan Fire Department at this time.
Wayne Farms has experienced significant expansion recently at its Dothan and Coffee County facilities. Recent expansion in Coffee County increased processing production there from 268,000 chickens to 399,000 per day.
A 47,000 square-foot refrigerated warehouse at the Dothan facility led to a $23.5 million investment there and a new feed mill in Newton in 2017 resulted in 36 new jobs and a $55 million investment.
There have been bumps along the way, however.
A fire at the company’s Enterprise facility in 2017 caused significant damage. Meanwhile, a payroll fraud scheme uncovered earlier this year led to five Wayne Farms employees charged with theft.
The company is headquartered in Oakwood, Ga., and employs about 9,000 company-wide. According to its website, the company has an outside sales volume of 2.6 billion pounds.
The company has seven locations in Alabama and one each in Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina.