The ammonia leak occurred because of a faulty seal in a valve and lasted less than 30 seconds, Respess said.
Ammonia is used at the plant to both chill processed chickens and to keep the plant cool, Respess said.
He said about 240 employees were evacuated after the event occurred.
He said all the employees were able to walk out of the plant. OSHA and the federal Environmental Protection Agency were notified of the incident, Respess said.
Lisa Brown, director of marketing for Redmond Regional Medical Center, said the hospital has seen and treated 14 patients with ties to the accident, and nine are being treated at Polk Medical Center.
"We take safety very seriously here," said Respess, who added that his family has owned the company since 1954.
Update: An ammonia leak at Tip Top Poultry on the Nathan Dean Bypass in Rockmart sent approximately 20 employees to Polk Medical Center and Redmond Regional Medical Center this morning.
City officials were informed of the leak around 7:30 a.m., but fire crews were called out immediately.
The Rockmart Fire Department cleared the plant and turned it back over to the plant officials with the ammonia contained around 9:45 a.m.
“What we had was a small ammonia leak,” said Rockmart Fire Chief Todd Queen. “There was a small amount of vapor that got back into the plant.”
Those affected by the chemical leak were first taken to Polk Medical Center, but that facility filled to capacity, and employees were transported to Floyd Medical and Redmond Regional Medical centers in Rome.
Difficulty breathing, itchy eyes and a burning sensation are among the symptoms the affected employees felt, Queen said.
“There was no danger to the community or to the surrounding areas,” Queen said. “The release of the ammonia was very small. It dissipated very quickly. We never anticipated any evacuation.”
Update: Bill Fortenberry, a spokesman at Floyd Medical Center, said five patients were taken to Floyd Medical Center on Wednesday morning following an ammonia link at Tip Top Poultry in Rockmart.
They were decontaminated at the hospital. Two patients complained of burns, one had a nosebleed and several had coughs, Fortenberry said.
Previously posted: An ammonia leak at Tip Top Poultry on the Nathan Dean Bypass in Rockmart has sent some of the employees to Floyd Medical Center and Redmond Regional Medical Center, according to EMS and Rockmart officials.
Rockmart fire crews, as well as city officials, are currently on scene at Tip Top poultry processing plant. City officials found out about the leak around 7:30 a.m., and fire crews were called out immediately.
The number of injuries have not been released. Polk Medical Center has been filled to capacity.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates