An ammonia leak at Sasol's operations in the early hours of Friday morning has been contained, the synthetic fuel and chemicals giant has said.
According to a Sasol spokesperson, a "strong ammonia smell" was detected at Sasol’s Bunsen Site in Sasolburg at approximately 02:45 on Friday morning.
"Sasol’s emergency protocol was activated. The incident was contained and the emergency called off at 05:09," the spokesperson said.
Sasol is a leading supplier of ammonia – a toxic liquid – which is one of the most important commodity chemicals produced in the world and, as such, is manufactured in vast quantities. Ammonia is produced at both Sasol's Secunda and Sasolburg facilities.
Most of the world's ammonia production is used in the production of nitrogenous fertilisers, including urea, ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulphate.
Sasolburg Operations covers an area of 51 km2, comprising three chemicals facilities - the Sasol One Site, the Midland Site, and the Bunsen Site.
Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in the air causes immediate burning of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract and can result in blindness, lung damage or death.
On Thursday, 15 workers at a food manufacturing facility in Ontario, Canada, were taken to hospital as a precautionary measure after an ammonia leak. The ammonia was being used as a refrigerant.