17 hospitalized from leak at NM cheese plant

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ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) -- Authorities say a liquid ammonia leak at a New Mexico mozzarella cheese plant sent 17 workers to the hospital.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that leak occurred Thursday on a refrigeration system at the Leprino Foods plant in Roswell.

Leprino officials say maintenance workers preparing to repair a condenser on the north side of the building took the brunt of the injuries when the unit malfunctioned and they inhaled ammonia vapors.

Leprino spokesman Mike Reidy says those injured had a variety of primarily respiratory issues.

Officials say all 17 were transported to local hospitals and released by late Thursday.

The Roswell plant manufactures mozzarella cheese and related whey products, including whey protein concentrate and lactose.

The Denver-based Leprino is one of the world's largest mozzarella manufacturing companies.

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