SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (AP) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a South San Francisco meat-processing plant to upgrade its equipment after an ammonia leak from the facility sickened more than two dozen people.

The agency said Thursday Columbus Salame must replace safety relief valves and replace all parts that show signs of corrosion within the next three months.

The agency says a leak at the building caused by a pressure buildup in a pipe sent 200 pounds of anhydrous ammonia into the air on Aug. 28.

Seventeen people were hospitalized and 30 others sought medical attention.

Anhydrous ammonia is an extremely hazardous chemical that can cause temporary blindness, eye damage and skin irritation.

Bob Wynne, a spokesman for Columbus Salame, says the company has already started the work ordered by the EPA.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle

Copyright 2010 The AP.

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