Backhoe hits high-pressure gas line, Oceana Foods employees evacuate plant

September 29, 2014
gas leak 1

Shelby Benona firefighters at the scene of a gas leak at Oceana Foods in Shelby Monday morning. A backhoe hit a high-pressure line.

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

SHELBY — Approximately 50 employees at Oceana Foods were evacuated from the plant at 168 Lincoln St. this morning after a backhoe hit a high-pressure gas line.

gas leak 2

Emergency personnel stand by as DTE Energy workers repair a high-pressure gas line that was hit by a backhoe at Oceana Foods this morning.

No injuries occurred, said Oceana County Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Osborn who was called to the scene. The situation could have been much worse, Osborn said, but fortunately there was no explosion or flare. Both Mercy Health Lakeshore Campus and Shelby Public Schools were notified of the situation, Osborn said.

Shelby Benona Fire Department and Oceana EMS were called to the scene, and a DTE Energy repair crew from Muskegon arrived to stop the leak.

“There were no injuries, and everyone has been accounted for,” said Carrie Tanner, Oceana Foods quality assurance manager.

gas leak 3

Approximately 50 Oceana Foods employees were evacuated from the plant this morning due to a gas leak.

A contractor operating a backhoe hit a high pressure line, said Oceana Foods General Manager Jeff Tucker. The contractor was working at a construction site at the plant where an expansion project is taking place, Tucker said. “We shut everything off and followed normal emergency procedures. We’re hoping to be back up yet today.” Employees heard a hissing sound after the line was hit, he said, and someone from the plant and the contractor alerted 911.

Emergency crews had Lincoln Street closed off for over an hour. It was a swift and successful response, Osborn said.  “We didn’t need to call any other departments.”

Oceana Foods is a fruit processing facility that employs approximately 80 workers, Tucker said.