A large Anhydrous Ammonia leak on the west side of Stewardson Tuesday morning caused an evacuation of part of the town. Residents in the area where the leak occurred were urged to stay indoors, while approximately 200 were evacuated.
The leak came from a transport truck carrying anhydrous ammonia that was offloading approximately twenty and a half tons of the product into a storage container owned by Effingham Equity. A malfunction occurred resulting in the release of approximately nineteen tons of anhydrous ammonia being released from the truck. All indications are that this incident was purely accidental and no foul play is suspected.
The leak caused a cloud of ammonia, which moved Southwest across the town. Residents were also asked to avoid this area, and to stay indoors. The leak occurred at approximately 5:30am, with the the scene being ruled safe at approximately 8:30am.
Because of the leak school buses did not run in Stewardson Tuesday morning. Trinity Lutheran School was closed as a result of the leak, though Stewardson district schools remained open.
Local emergency crews from the area assisted on the scene with checking on the well-being of residents living in the vicinity of the leak. Crews from Effingham, Dieterich, and Shelby County were among those to assist.
The Shelby County Emergency Management Agency recommended that residents of Stewardson air out their homes as a precaution.
A number of individuals were transported to an area hospital where they were treated for respiratory issues due to being exposed to the vapor.