Kellogg’s fined after Eggo waffle factory released toxic gas into surrounding area

State officials say a Kellogg’s factory in San Jose, California, that makes Eggo waffles, will have to pay an $85,000 fine after leaking toxic ammonia into a surrounding neighborhood and not reporting it immediately.

According to the District Attorney’s Office in Santa Clara County, Kellogg Brands was found guilty of criminal negligence for the incident that occurred on January 22, 2021.

“These cases threaten public safety and the environment with each passing minute,” Deputy District Attorney Jason Busey said in a statement. “When companies fail to report a release promptly, they face serious consequences.”

The release occurred when a worker on a scissor lift damaged a pipe, which began leaking anhydrous ammonia, a toxic gas that can cause serious injury or death, according to Bassey’s office. Eggo’s managers didn’t call 911 for over an hour, thinking the leak had stopped.

The delay contributed to an emergency in which approximately 3,400 pounds of gas escaped, forcing area residents to shelter in place while emergency responders contained the leak. No one was reported to be injured.

Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used as a refrigerant in food processing, and Eggo uses the substance to freeze its waffles.

Since the incident, Kellogg has “made a number of significant improvements to our procedures and protocols to ensure the safest environment possible for our employees and neighbors,” a spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch in an email.

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