Ammonia leak forces evacuations north of Shreveport

By Katrina Webber - email | bio

CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - The weather may have played a role in a chemical leak that caused the evacuation of more than a dozen homes and businesses  just north of the Shreveport city limits.

According to Sgt. Michael Gray with the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office, a safety valve on a tank full of anhydrous ammonia popped open, allowing a small amount of the chemical to escape.   Gray said it's possible the heat from the sun caused the tank to expand, and the valve popped open as a safety measure.

The tank was outside Precision Tool and Design in the 1400 block of Wells Island Road.  Gray said it's unclear if the business is actually operating.

"The tank was several hundred gallons," he said.  "Should there have been a larger release, it probably would've involved the evacuation of Cherokee Park, a residential area of north Shreveport .

Instead, deputies evacuated 14 homes and businesses in the immediate area of the leak.

Both Caddo and Shreveport firefighters responded to the incident around 8:30 a. m. Monday.  Some of them suited up in gear equipped with oxygen tanks and went toward the business to investigate the leak.

About  five minutes after they began examining the tank up close, the firefighters determined the risk was minimal. 

Gray said the chemical among people who manufacture the illegal drug, methamphetamine.  He said the sheriff's office often receives reports of thefts of the chemical from industrial areas.

He said investigators will follow up with the owner of the business regarding the removal of the tank from the property.