A Tier 2 HazMat incident was declared by the New Bedford Fire Department this morning after an ammonia leak was reported at the Northern Wind Seafood annex on McArthur Drive near the harbor's South Terminal.

At around 9:30 a.m., Fire Chief Paul Coderre Jr. told WBSM that city crews were waiting for the Massachusetts District 1 hazardous materials crew to arrive, and that the state team would enter the building, assess the situation, and decide upon the best course of action.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services confirmed today that the HazMat response was for an ammonia leak, said it was due to a faulty valve, and added that first responders were able to place a temporary cap upon the valve. He said there no reports of injuries to occupants or first responders.

Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media

The incident drew a large emergency response to the site with traffic blocked on McArthur Drive between South Street and Wright Street. Crews from multiple agencies, including the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, MassDEP and the New Bedford Emergency Management Agency were on the job, as were personnel from the New Bedford Department, New Bedford Police Department, and New Bedford EMS. Mutual aid crews from other communities were providing assistance, and people could be seen donning protective gear and oxygen masks. The Providence Canteen was on hand to provide food and hydration to the workers.

It was the second time in two days that HazMat crews responded to a hazardous materials emergency at a New Bedford fish house. Monday state and city crews responded to Sea Watch International for reports of an ammonia leak outside the building. The state DFS spokesman today said there is no reason to believe that the two incidents are related.

Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media

Ammonia, used in refrigeration, is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and lungs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  Ammonia in the air is also flammable at higher concentrations.  It can explode if released in an enclosed space with a source of ignition present.

This is a developing story and we will post more information as it becomes available.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app