A leaking pop-off valve on a tanker-truck belonging to Airgas resulted in the evacuation and closing of Walmart in Hope on Tuesday night.
An employee of Walmart called in about the leaking trailer that was putting off a strong smell. Hope police officers verified the smell emanating from the trailer that was loaded with anhydrous ammonia, which is used in multiple applications including refrigeration and explosives. According to OSHA, exposure to elevated levels can cause severe respiratory problems, temporary blindness and severe burns.
Police and firefighters from the Hope Fire Department quickly began evacuating the Walmart parking lot and setting up a safe perimeter around the truck. Once they cleared the immediate area, they evacuated the store and closed off the parking lot to any incoming traffic. Employees were evacuated to the Garrett Memorial Baptist Church parking lot until a time frame could be established for the store to reopen.